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Blog

Local School Feels Sting of Trademark Law

January 23, 2015

Blog

Local School Feels Sting of Trademark Law

January 23, 2015

Back to Fish's Trademark and Copyright Blog

 

In its lead story this week, my hometown’s weekly newspaper is reporting that one of our elementary schools has received a cease and desist letter and proposed license agreement from the Georgia Institute of Technology (better known as Georgia Tech) over the use of Georgia Tech’s federally registered yellow-jacket logo, known as Buzz.

The school had begun using the logo in 2008 when the school adopted the mascot Hatherly Hornets.  (The news story does not report why a K-6 school that fields no interscholastic teams would need a team mascot and logo.)  The school’s principal is quoted in the story as saying they took the image from Microsoft clip art.  The use apparently came to Georgia Tech’s attention when the school launched an online parent-teacher newsletter called “The Buzz,” which featured the logo.

Are the logos similar?  You decide:blog_mascots

 

The local news coverage is refreshingly even-handed and pretty accurate in laying out the issues.  And Georgia Tech appears to have made a relatively soft approach – their letter to the school is quoted as saying: “We hate to have to make this so formal, but we’ve found it is becoming increasingly important for universities like Georgia Tech to be vigilant in protecting our logos and marks; if we do not, we run the risk of losing ownership for lack of enforcement.”

According to the news story, the school principal declined to sign the license agreement (which evidently only required that the school sell no merchandise featuring the mark).  Instead, they have changed the name of the newsletter, removed the images from web pages, and are having a new Hornet logo drawn.

Tip to school administrators: Make sure the new logo does not look like this.

Related Tags

trademark
trademark registration

Blog Authors

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Robert M. O'Connell, Jr. | Of Counsel

Robert O’Connell is Of Counsel in the Boston office of Fish & Richardson. His practice focuses on trademark and copyright strategic advice, prosecution and enforcement, including all aspects of domestic and international trademark law; registration and...

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