University of Florida, Other Universities Demand High Schools to Change Logos

12/01/2010 // WPB, FL, USA // Personal Injury Lawyers News // Nicole Howley

Gainesville, FL—Universities across the U.S., including the University of Florida are going after high schools, which bare their logos. The universities and colleges are citing trademark infringement and the risk of diluting their logo’s value, as the reason behind demanding that several high schools change their logos and cease use of their designs, reports The New York Times.

Universities’ trademarked logos are heavily protected as they are used for many merchandised items, from cups to underwear. One of the biggest advocates for protecting their trademark is the University of Florida, who has gone after several schools, most notably the Glades Day School, a 390-student private school seated on the edge of swampland in Belle Glade, Fla. The Glades Day School is being required to change their logo and cease the use of UF’s Gator. The private school has chosen to comply with the university’s request instead of battling it in court.

Universities have even gone after high schools across the country. Penn State told Buna High School, 1,400 miles away in Texas, that their Cougar logo resembled its Nittany Lion and demanded that they change their logo. Gardner Edgerton High School in Kansas was also ordered to change their Trailblazer logo, which was similar to the University of Texas’ Longhorns’ logo.

The University of Florida also sent cease-and-desist letters to Palm Beach Gardens Community High School, Vicksburg High School in Mississippi, and Ola High School in Arkansas. All of the four schools have agreed to make the necessary changes.

Changing the high school’s logo is no easy feat. It will cost the schools thousands of dollars to change out the logos on their uniforms, repaint logo-covered walls and gym floors, as well as changing the school’s websites. Many schools were given the option of phasing out the logos over several years to help alleviate the costs. It will cost the Glades Day School about $60,000 to change out their Gator logo.

“It’s not something we target, and it’s not something we look for. But when it comes to our attention or our client’s attention, as trademark owners, there is a responsibility to address these issues,” said Jim Aronowitz, associate general counsel for the Collegiate Licensing Company, which represents about 160 colleges and universities.

Marty Brochstein, senior vice president of the International Licensing Industry Merchandisers’ Association said, “If they systematically don’t protect their rights, then down the road someone who does really want to rip them off could theoretically have a defense. They could say, ’Well, if you didn’t protect the mark then, why are you protecting it now?’”

Legal News Reporter: Nicole Howley-Legal news for intellectual property lawyers.

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