All Georgia High School Teams Should Boycott FSU, Other CLC Teams
Sports marketing firm Collegiate Licensing Company has insisted that several Georgia high schools change team logos that are similar to that of the Seminoles. Should the Oconee County Warriors and their similar spear logo be worried?
According to a couple of recent Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper articles, the Atlanta-based sports marketing firm Collegiate Licensing Company sent letters to several metro Atlanta area high schools for trademark infringement over the high schools' use of a logo resembling that of the Florida State Seminoles and the University of Florida.
I am not a trademark attorney nor do I play one on TV, but I am a fan of high school football and know the pride our kids take in putting on uniforms similar to those with the same name: the Athens Academy Spartans and Michigan State Spartans would be an excellent example of how two schools co-exist reasonably and without difficulties despite similar athletic aesthetic. Prince Avenue Christian School co-opts everything from the Michigan Wolverines including their fight song. This is part of the ingrained tradition of football in this country.
The high schools in question (so far) seem isolated to Rockdale County, with Salem High School and a nearby middle school accused of violating the supposedly sacred spear arrow and side view of a supposed Seminole Indian head. If anything, these institutions of higher learning should be paying the school districts a royalty for using their logos as a tribute instead of burning bridges with a threat of court action in correspondence.
In these cash-strapped times for Georgia high schools, this will add an undue burden to the various school districts to remove and remarket their various brands and logos for their teams. I would suggest that the high school negatively affected by this logo war should respond in kind by refusing to allow the coaches and recruiters on campus, much like Columbus Carver did against the University of Georgia when there was some bad blood over recruiting a few years back.
The Oconee County Warriors have won a state title (in football) or ten (in softball) in the last decade plus, yet have thankfully remained off of the radar of the corporate logo detector police in Atlanta. The pregame festivities at football games used to include a rider on horseback planting a flaming spear in the middle of the Warrior Field in Watkinsville, although I have not attended a football game there since their state championship year in 1999. However, last time I noticed, you cannot trademark a ceremony. FSU may not have a legitimate legal gripe on this one.
The Florida State alternate logo is a face of a Seminole Indian resembling very strongly the Chicago Blackhawks hockey team's distinctive logo. What I am trying to say is all sports logos are in fair use by all and should be recognized as such.
But what about the Atlanta Braves appropriating the one arm tomahawk chop salute and chant (Whoa-ohh-ohh-oh) from those folks in Tallahassee? What about the University of Georgia borrowing their "G" from the Green Bay Packers, and Grambling State's subsequent borrowing from UGA? I recall reading of a phone call between Georgia's athletic department and the Packers about the time Vince Dooley came to coach in a Green Bay Packer question and answer site. According to Wikipedia, "The Packers hold the trademark on the "G" logo, and have granted limited permission to other organizations to utilize a similar logo, such as the University of Georgia and Grambling State University."
There are many similar Wildcats and Tigers, Bulldogs and Eagles.
Suppose Disney and Denzel Washington came back to North Oconee to Remember the Titans and take back their sign?
What about Georgetown and their cap wearing Bulldog mascot - a blue dog heard clone of the University of Georgia's beloved old dawg except for color scheme? What about Harrison High in Cobb County using the Georgetown nickname the "Hoyas"? What about keeping the colleges that do not wish to share their mascot similarities away from Georgia high schools off their campuses for recruiting and what not?
If Florida State, UFL and other schools do not want various high schools to replicate their logos, they should change their logo and mascot, not make the high schools change theirs instead. Besides, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Kids younger than middle school age want to wear the logos, uniforms and t-shirts of their favorite universities and colleges.
Once this can of trademark worms is opened wide, then everybody suffers needlessly. Where do we stop? Does Oconee County Parks and Recreation Department have the right to call their teams after pro and college teams? I hope any forth coming legal action be avoided or at best should be tossed out by a discerning justice system. Colleges should be honored that the logos are being borrowed by high schools. Sports business is big business, but come on, give the high schools and their student athletes a break.