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SHHS settles ‘Mad Hatter’ logo issue

December 13th, 2011 10:26 pm by Gary B. Gray

SHHS settles ‘Mad Hatter’ logo issue

A trademark license agreement between Pittsburgh’s Duquesne University and Johnson City Schools regarding the use of the university’s logo of a grimacing top-hatted man becomes effective Friday.
The total cost of the miscue is estimated at about $22,500.
The agreement is the result of Science Hill High School’s admitted use of Duquesne’s registered trademark without prior authorization and a tersely worded June letter asking that Science Hill cease and desist or face legal action. Initially, the university demanded the logo be removed from Kermit Tipton Stadium’s playing turf before the Aug. 4 school start date.
However, the school system began negotiations to retain the use of the logo on or at certain areas, and representatives from the two entities say communication was amiable and an agreeable solution was reached. In the end, the only change made to a proposed agreement this fall was moving the effective date from October to Thursday.
“When you register a trademark, you do have an obligation to protect it,” Lee Patterson, the school system’s human resources director and legal counsel said Tuesday. “But everyone’s worked together well, and the only change from the prior agreement is moving back the effective date.”
Beginning Friday, the school system will be allowed to keep the logo on the football field for five years, though it must do away with the logo on the scoreboard. The logo also will be allowed for a term of two years to be used on the high school’s wrestling mat and athletic uniforms.
In return, the school system will pay Duquesne $5,000 in $1,000 annual installments, the first being due by Friday. SHHS Athletic Director Keith Turner has received a $17,500 quote on the cost of removing the logo from the football field and replacing the turf when the time comes. This cost, and the annual payment, will be derived from revenue generated by an agreement between the school system and Coca Cola Co., which supplies soft drinks.
In 2006, Turner says he came across the logo in a magazine while looking for a similar, rugged-appearing upgrade for the high school’s athletic program. Turner and SHHS Assistant Principal Jeff Aldridge handled the upgrade from it’s “man about town” logo that had been in place since about 2003 to the “mad hatter” look of the current logo, according to Dave Chupa, Johnson City Schools’ instruction and facilities supervisor.
On Dec. 5, the Board of Education amended its policy regarding the use of copyrighted materials, trademarks, mascots and logos that more clearly delineates responsibilities and places tighter controls on their use in hopes the misstep won’t happen again.
The agreement calls for no further clothing, labels, signs, brochures, schedules and the like bearing the logo be ordered and produced. The university has agreed to let the high school continue to sell existing promotional items until stocks are depleted. The university also will let Science Hill keep all proceeds from sales of these items through June 15 on the condition that evidence of the sales are made available on request.
Failure to cease using the Duquesne logo at the indicated times will result in “immediate and irreparable harm” to Johnson City Schools and that its “remedy at law will be inadequate,” according to the agreement.

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