FSU lawsuit over Seminoles logo affects Atlanta area high schools (UPDATED)

Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery but when it comes to using logos that resemble those of the Florida State Seminoles, FSU is apparently anything but touched by seeing its spear design and Seminole head images gracing a high school helmet near you. PHOTOS: Take a look at some metro Atlanta schools using collegiate-style logos.

The AJC’s Christian Boone reports that Rockdale County’s Salem High and Memorial Middle schools have reached a settlement with FSU that allows them to keep the Seminoles nickname for their sports teams, “though it may only be used when preceded by either Salem High or Memorial Middle.” The schools can no longer use the familiar spear design or Seminole head images.

The eventual cost to remove the emblems from helmets, uniforms, gym floors and other team-associated items at the schools could top $200,000, a Rockdale school board member told the AJC. Other high schools that could be affected include Creekside in Fairburn and Westside in Bibb County.

“We’re not trying to put them in a financial bind,” FSU’s trademark licensing director told the Macon Telegraph. “To get this all acknowledged is the main thing. If it takes five years, it takes five years.”

UPDATE: See what FSU says in response to the AJC’s earlier story and how UGA handles the issue of trademark infringement when it comes to high schools.

Is there a better way to resolve this issue? Share your thoughts about this issue here in our forum.

98 comments Add your comment

J

March 21st, 2011
8:04 pm

I wish FSU hadn’t had to go to these lengths to get the images removed; I would guess that a letter was insufficient to convince these schools to stop infringing on the university’s copyright. What I find interesting, though, is that students would probably be disciplined and fail an assignment or class if they plagiarized on an assignment. I love it when adults fail to follow the basic rules they demand children obey.

Rix17

March 21st, 2011
8:10 pm

Why not have the High School and Middle School pay a “royalty” fee to FSU (like $1 a year), rather than spend $200K on changing everything. Don’t think FSU needs the cash, so why not foster some good PR out of this?

glenn

March 21st, 2011
8:14 pm

I cannot believe the pettiness that FSU has gone to in enforcing this…must be a slow day for the bureaucrats in Tallahassee. It seems a shame to have to spend education monies this way.

Innocent Bystander

March 21st, 2011
8:41 pm

I would expect nothing less from F$U.

Kevin O

March 21st, 2011
8:47 pm

“Why not have the High School and Middle School pay a “royalty” fee to FSU (like $1 a year), rather than spend $200K on changing everything. Don’t think FSU needs the cash, so why not foster some good PR out of this?”

You, sir, need to be hired as the new PR Director at FSU! Nice Comment!

waynester

March 21st, 2011
8:52 pm

FSU has an unique trademark and they’re trying to stop the misappropriation of their property. A lot of other institutions will find themselves in similar situations to FSU and I’m sure they’ll fight against infringement, too.

Valtool

March 21st, 2011
8:58 pm

The problem is less that FSU has had to go to this length to protect a copyrighted logo than it is that people like the Rockdale county school board member feels it’s okay to steal if you are a small individual stealing from a large group. “I thought it was a joke,” said school board member Darlene Hotchkiss, referring to the cease and desist order. “Why are they going after the little guys?”

Darlene, they are going after the little guys because the little guys are stealing.

Steve Spurrier

March 21st, 2011
9:01 pm

Who wants to be associated with Free $hoes University anyway?

Jay Stone

March 21st, 2011
9:09 pm

This isn’t the first time this has happened. Penn State, Florida, and the University of Texas have all pursued copyright relief from high schools using their logos (anyone listening at Kell?). It seems extremely petty, but the trouble is they have to establish a pattern of protecting their copyright so that when they get to a case that actually has something on the line for the university, it can then say it has been consistent on the copyright point. What I haven’t read is where the athletic apparel reps come into play, because it would seem they profited off selling these logos to the high schools. Are the colleges going after them?

cantondawg

March 21st, 2011
9:13 pm

I could see why they would be mad if another college or professional team used their logo. But for goodness sakes, this is a high school in atlanta. How in the world can they be competing or cost FSU any money. This is pretty pathetic how a school thinks it has a word or a picture trademarked.

BehindEnemyLines

March 21st, 2011
9:26 pm

Valtool got this one on the first try, hard to believe that anyone can’t understand something as simple as this. I’ve wondered for years how Westside-Macon was getting away with such an obvious ripoff. The real surprise here is how many universities fail to live up to their responsibilities to taxpayers by protecting their marks.

USMC DAWG

March 21st, 2011
9:30 pm

Sounds like someone @ FSU needs to be sent a case of Tampax. I’ve never heard such b!tching and whining.

Jeff

March 21st, 2011
9:31 pm

Hey Enemy Lines… protecting their marks? Taxpayers? What planet are you from? Do you think that I, as a University of Georgia fan, would give two craps if a middle school in North Dakota used the Georgia “G” for their helmet, so that Grantham High School had a cool logo? Absolutely not!

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery… again, I ask you or Valtool or ANYONE… when there is evidence of this “hurting” Florida State and when somebody can tell me what they are “stealing” and how they are “diminishing” FSU’s tradition in sports… let me know.

Aren’t some of you the same people who say FSU should change their mascot and logo anyway?

MACD

March 21st, 2011
9:34 pm

UGA, would do the exact same thing if there was a school calling themselves the Bulldogs with a big G as the logo…

Stan

March 21st, 2011
9:34 pm

This is racist!

FSU owns the Seminole name

March 21st, 2011
9:34 pm

I believe they have an agreement with the Seminole tribe to be the sole user/owner of the Seminole name. They also have the blessing of the tribe to use the name.

As far as FSU being a bully about this, there really is no other way. If they did not come across as serious no school would probably take them seriously. Like the woman said, “she thought it was a joke”.

I don’t blame FSU. Seems like they are being fair in giving them 5 years and allowing them to use the name in a certain manner.

USMC DAWG

March 21st, 2011
9:35 pm

If I were a coach or administrator at any of these high schools, I would go to great legnths to never allow a coach or representative of FSU on campus to recruit a student. You want to recruit them, fine, do it off campus.

Worm

March 21st, 2011
9:35 pm

F$U, You are not doing yourself any favors here..Extremely bad Pub for a program that hasn’t been revelant on the National stage for ten years..Here’s hoping Jumbo “Shrimp” leads you back to your Women’s college days..You were known in my day as the “SemiHoles”.

Jay Stone

March 21st, 2011
9:40 pm

Don’t be surprised if this is the early stages of a trend. I’d be shocked if someone at Lassiter isn’t reviewing their uniform schemes about now …

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/27/sports/football/27logos.html?_r=1

Mike T.

March 21st, 2011
9:48 pm

MACD
Georgia doesn’t own that G Logo, the Green Bay Packers do. However they pay
a royalty to the Packers.
FSU may have legal recourse, but it’s petty. These HS poae no threat to FSU.

FlyDownTheField

March 21st, 2011
9:49 pm

Folks, FSU really does have to do this to maintain their property rights; under US trademark law, if you do not actively protect your trademark from infringement you can lose it. The University of Florida has also done this with a high school in Florida (their own state!) so it’s not just FSU. The fault lies with the schools’ coaches and administration for illegally copying the logos to begin with.

Tom

March 21st, 2011
9:52 pm

The only issue I have is that Salem High opened in 1991 and Memorial Middle School opened in 1993 and it took FSU 20yrs to now decide they are now being infringed upon. The question should be why now and not years ago….

Mike T.

March 21st, 2011
9:53 pm

I believe they have an agreement with the Seminole tribe to be the sole user/owner of the Seminole name. They also have the blessing of the tribe to use the name.

The Seminole tribe of FL is okay with it, however the Oklahoma Seminoles
are against it.

Mark C

March 21st, 2011
9:57 pm

What are Georgia schools doing with a tribe of Florida indians as a mascot anyway?

AlaNole

March 21st, 2011
9:59 pm

Ummm…FSU is not the only university being forced by their legal dept to do this. When you have a unique logo you have to protect it, simple as that. This battle has been going on Florida high schools between FSU, UF and Miami for a few months now. It sucks, but that’s our legal world unfortunately.

I’m pretty sure when UGA wanted to use the oval “G”, they had to get permission from Green Bay first.

ATLNOLE

March 21st, 2011
10:01 pm

Worm you’re an idiot. I bet you’re days were a long long time ago and your boyfriend was probably upset with you cheating on him with women at FSU.

enick755

March 21st, 2011
10:30 pm

How about renaming the two teams “The Cherokees”?

Once again it's the lawyers

March 21st, 2011
10:37 pm

Where does it stop?

Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot?

March 21st, 2011
11:02 pm

Anyone remember what happened to South Carolina last year? They didn’t actively protect the interlocking SC and now they can no longer use it. Even though Southern Cal had a different looking script So Carolina can no longer use it. The judges ruled in favor of Southern Cal even though South Carolina has been associated with the SC even before Southern Cal was founded. It pays much better to be proactive!

Brian Johnson

March 21st, 2011
11:10 pm

All of you are missing the point. It’s one of Atlanta’s finest establishments doing this: Collegiate Licensing Company. They are the haters here. Not FSU. Why target ATL-area schools? Because daddy lawyer’s boy just lost a baseball game to the school in Rockdale county. It’s simple retaliation and greed run amok.

randall

March 21st, 2011
11:26 pm

it will be a cold day in H#ll before my child goes to a school that pulls that stunt. regardless of trademark, there is such thing as integrity…

Kyle

March 21st, 2011
11:49 pm

FSU takes its association with the Seminole Tribe of Florida very seriously. With the school already on slippery ground with the NCAA over its use of Native American imagery, I find no problem with the school defending the honor and intergrity of the Tribe’s symbols and imagery it worked so hard to defend and uphold

Mac

March 22nd, 2011
12:31 am

I did not know that an arrowhead symbol with the exclusive property of the Seminole Tribe, Just what would give them the right to that symbol over any other tribe?

doug

March 22nd, 2011
1:40 am

bottome line is..these school are breaking the law..and they knew that when they painted their gym floors or what not..too bad!

qirin

March 22nd, 2011
4:22 am

Kyle…you have got to be joking! FSU is “defending the honor and intergrity[sic] of the Tribe’s symbols and imagery”? Are you really that naive? That arrogant crap college doesn’t give a rat’s patooty about Native Americans. All they care about is maintaining exclusive merchandising rights and they’ve managed to buy off a few key tribal members to do it. I find it disgusting in this day and age that so many people still think it’s okay to appropriate native Americans as mascots. I know! To avoid problems with FSU, these schools could call their teams “The Negroes.” Or how about “The Latinos”? Nobody would have a problem with that would they?

zoe

March 22nd, 2011
5:49 am

This has been coming for a while. There was an article about it in the NYT in November. FSU isn’t the only school doing this. UF is another one mentioned. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/27/sports/football/27logos.html?_r=1

zoe

March 22nd, 2011
5:54 am

Saw someone else mentioned the article, its early in the morning, sorry. What about another high school stealing colors and a mascot? There is a school in the county next to ours that uses the same colors and mascot our school does. The parents of that school chose it because they all graduated from the first school.

Devildog

March 22nd, 2011
7:01 am

Wonder if they’ll go after the Braves fans next. Make them stop the chant and the tomahawk chop.

Flip

March 22nd, 2011
7:23 am

In addition to my above post, through additional research, I can find no confirmation that UGA “pays” the Packers for use of the oval G.

JoeV

March 22nd, 2011
7:46 am

FSU OWNS the trademarks! What don’t you people get? If you owned trademarks worth millions of dollars I would imagine you would want to protect them as well.

mgdawg

March 22nd, 2011
8:03 am

This is very, very petty stuff. Bad PR, not to mention this is terrible for recruiting. Do you think FSU will be able to get any recruit from these schools after this? Atleast give the schools more then 6 months to do away with the logo, or although this would probably be illegal, help them out with getting rid of the logo. Having high schools use your same logo in my mind is nothing but beneficial, there are probably many people in that town that buy FSU merchandise to wear to sporting events, not to mention there are probably some kids that want to go to school at FSU since their schools have the same theme. Just dumb.

ConVick

March 22nd, 2011
8:12 am

This is a no brainer and stupid to boot. The schools knew what they were doing when they picked their mascots. Its not like it was similiar to FSU, it was their mascot with a feather attached. Its called a trademark and though I could give a rats butt about FSU, they have the right to protect it. It just like todays pop artists ripping off beats from songs 20 to 30 years ago and changing it up just a little and coming out with a new song, and then they wonder why there getting sued. If their not getting sued, then they “PAID” them for the rights.

John

March 22nd, 2011
8:15 am

For those interested, Sprayberry High School in Cobb County has an agreement with Georgia Tech to use the “Buzz” logo as well as the “Yellow Jackets” nickname. Here in Gwinnett, Lanier High School and Lanier Middle also has agreement with University of Texas to use the Longhorn logo as well.

It pays to ASK first.

James

March 22nd, 2011
8:42 am

Per the Rockdale newspaper article (which actually reported all of the facts) linked in the AJC article, the school has EIGHT YEARS to replace its band uniforms and FIVE YEARS to replace its wall/floor emblems. These would likely be replaced anyway within these time frames. The football helmets and baseball caps may not use the emblems next year, but stickers/caps are purchased each year anyway. The financial ramifications of this for the school are being way overblown — FSU is merely asking them to use up what they have, but don’t use it any more.

Dan

March 22nd, 2011
8:46 am

F$U F$U F$U Show me the money !!!

Ghostrider

March 22nd, 2011
8:50 am

@ JOEV

Who cares….

Gretchen

March 22nd, 2011
8:50 am

I say let the High Schools keep the Seminoles name. At least that poor tribe can have one team named after it that actually wins games!

Kat

March 22nd, 2011
8:51 am

If they used the exact same Georgia Bulldog logo UGA would be doing the same thing! You think someone would have checked with FSU first before putting the exact same logo on their helmets, uniforms, floors, etc. FSU OWNS the trademarks! Try putting an apple on the helment and see what Mac does…..

4aaa

March 22nd, 2011
8:52 am

FSU has settled with a florida school for a 1$ fee….why could they not do the same in this case

Furious Styles

March 22nd, 2011
8:55 am

This never would have happened under Bobby Bowden’s and Will Proctor’s watch. Take notice.