An agreement appears to be at hand nearly four months after Johnson City Schools received a tersely worded request by an attorney representing Pittsburgh’s Duquesne University for Science Hill High School to cease and desist from using its logo of a grimacing top-hatted man.
University spokeswoman Bridget Fare said in a story last week in the online edition of the university’s newspaper, The Duquesne Duke, that they no longer intend to file a lawsuit over trademark infringement and that representatives from the two entities are discussing possible time frames for Science Hill to stop using the logo.
Telephone messages left for Fare and Christine Ethridge, an attorney with the Pittsburgh law firm K&L Gates who is representing the university, were not returned.
“We are finalizing an agreement that hopefully will be voted on by the Board of Education at its next meeting (Oct. 3),” Lee Patterson, Johnson City Schools’ human resources director and legal counsel, said Monday.
A June 2 letter from Ethridge asked that the logo be removed from Kermit Tipton Stadium before the start of the school year Aug. 4, and that no further clothing, labels, signs, brochures, schedules and the like bearing the logo be ordered and produced. The request also stated that “beginning immediately” no coach, staff member, teacher or anyone representing the high school wear any article of clothing with the logo on it.
But proof the two entities had gone into negotiation mode straddled the stadium’s 50-yard line when school started and at ensuing football games where the large logo has remained firmly implanted in the new synthetic turf.
Since the letter was first made public July 6, Patterson has said the school system was attempting to workout a franchising agreement. Communication with the Press regarding the situation after that point has been consistent: that because of potential litigation, the school could not go public with further information.
On Sept. 15, Supervisor of Instruction and Facilities, Dave Chupa, told the Duquesne Duke’s Managing Editor Robyn Rudish-Laning that it would be expensive to cut into a field that has a brand new $500,000 synthetic turf. He told the paper it would be expensive to try to remove the logo from the new scoreboard as well.
“I can confirm that we are in negotiations, and they are friendly negotiations,” Ethridge said in late July as negotiations continued. “We are aware that school has started, and we are hopeful an amiable resolution can be reached.”