University of Missouri Cracks Down on School District Using Its Logo

Jun 5, 2009

By Steven Stamps
The Collegiate Licensing Company (CLC) has sent a cease and desist order to an Indiana school district asking the district to change its logo due to its similarity to the logo of the University of Missouri Tigers.
The Warsaw Community School District in Indiana started using the logo in question several years ago. The school district was unaware of the trademark until it received the cease and desist letter from the CLC. The letter read in part:
“On behalf of the University, CLC’s intent is to notify you of the concerns that the University has with your school’s use of a mark that is nearly identical to the Tiger Head design Mark owned by the institution in connection with its athletic teams and its licensing program. While we understand that your school did not intend to create any issues by using the Mark in question, it is important for you to understand the concerns that we have regarding your use of the Mark.”
Many high schools across the nation use logos that are substantially similar to the logos used by universities and colleges. Each individual school decides how aggressively they want to protect their logo. The University of Missouri had a similar situation with a South Dakota high school in March. Trademark disputes have become a common occurrence as the value of these logos has increased. The letter sent to Warsaw states:
“Your school’s use of a mark that is nearly identical to the Tiger Head design mark may cause consumers to erroneously believe that the University has authorized Warsaw Community High School to use its Marks. Additionally, it will dilute the distinctiveness of the Mark that the public associates with the University. It will also interfere with the University’s ability to effectively market and license the use of the marks in the marketplace.”
The CLC typically works with the high schools to limit the financial burden of being forced to change logos. For example, CLC may expect the school to quickly remove the offending logo from the school’s website and stationary, but show flexibility with regard to logos on jerseys, until new ones can be ordered.
Warsaw Community Schools Assistant Superintendent Chris Gensinger told a local television station : “I’m disappointed we have to make an adjustment, but if we have done something that is not right than I certainly want to comply with whatever needs to be done to resolve the issue. I believe the whole situation was inadvertent.”


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