Using an organization’s trademarked logo without its permission is not only unwise, it can also be expensive. That’s the hard lesson that Johnson City school officials have learned.
As Press staff writer Nathan Baker reported in Tuesday’s paper, the school system is winding down a deal with Duquesne University involving the use of the logo of the Pittsburgh, Penn.-based school’s grimacing man in the top hat. In July 2011, Science Hill received a letter from the college threatening legal action if the school did not cease producing promotional materials with the logo, immediately prohibit coaches and faculty from wearing clothing with the image and remove the trademarked man from the 50-yard line of the football field and the competition wrestling mat.
As lawyers for Duquesne stated in a letter to Johnson City officials nearly three years ago, the university must “protect its intellectual property rights or risk losing them.”
That’s why the university was so forceful in demanding Science Hill High School to stop using what is — by all legal standards — its logo.
This incident has not only been embarrassing for Science Hill, it has been expensive to the school system and the city’s taxpayers. Officials with Johnson City schools struck a settlement with the university allowing the logo to stay on the newly built stadium’s field for up to five years at a cost of $1,000 per year.
And on Monday, the Johnson City Board of Education approved $21,750 to replace Duquesne’s pilfered logo from the turf of the midfield of Science Hill High School’s Kermit Tipton Stadium.
Hopefully, the school system has learned a valuable lesson and has a policy in place when it comes to changes that might be made to the logos or mascots of city schools. Taxpayers shouldn’t have to be burdened with any more trademark blunders.