The University of Arizona Is Forcing Woodrow Wilson to Abandon Decades-Old Wildcat Logo

Thumbnail image for WoodrowUniversityofArizonaLogos.jpg
Woodrow's wildcat is on the left. The University of Arizona's is on the right.
In 1991, Woodrow Wilson High School installed a new floor in the main hallway. At the center, they put a tile mosaic of a stylized wildcat head based on a design that had been used around the school for a decade. Twenty-one years later, Principal Kyle Rains Richardson received a letter from James D. Aronowitz, an attorney with Atlanta-based Collegiate Licensing Company.

"Your school's use of a mark that is nearly identical to the WILDCAT HEAD design Mark may cause consumers to erroneously believe that the University [of Arizona] has authorized Woodrow Wilson High School to use its Marks," the lawyer wrote. "Additionally, it will dilute the distinctiveness of the Mark that the public associates with the University. It will also interfere with the University's ability to effectively market and license the use of the Marks in the marketplace."

The message was clear: Ditch the wildcat logo or suffer the legal consequences.

Aggressive enforcement of copyright claims by large universities isn't particularly new or unique. But it's picked up over the past decade as merchandise sales have become increasingly lucrative.

"There is a doctrine in trademark law that says you don't own a trademark for all time, you own it for as long as you're using it and it refers to you," Christine Haight Farley, an Associate Professor of Law at American University's Washington College of Law, told Monument Media in 2005 after Oregon State University had gone after a small Ohio high school for aping its beaver logo. "Once you stop using it, or allow too many others to use it without complaint, then you lose the rights and you don't get to enforce them."

This is invariably an inconvenience for the high schools, which sometimes are forced to spend several thousand dollars ripping out gym floors or buying new uniforms. Woodrow's wildcat isn't quite ubiquitous -- it's not on any jerseys or merchandise -- but it's common and has long served as an emblem of the school, adorning official letterhead and, until recently, its website. Some teachers still have old spirit shirts that bear the logo.


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48 comments
lolasunshine
lolasunshine

It isn't the University who is involved but an NCAA licensed company - I think it is ridiculous though. Go ASU - the real Arizona school!!

TheRan
TheRan

The logo is SIMILAR, but NOT the same.  Look at it.

roadsidecouch
roadsidecouch

Hmm, 1980.  I wonder how old the Arizona trademark is, if it is after 1980, then the high school image is prior art and permissible.  

Cliffhanger
Cliffhanger

It's enough to make me root for Stanford. 

primi_timpano
primi_timpano topcommenter

This is a job for Gregg Abbott.

RoscoeJ
RoscoeJ

Does the University of Arizona realize it is provoking contretemps with the Lakewood Mothers (a.k.a. the Lakewood Mom-fia)?

Y'all will soon be pussycats!

Blake Page
Blake Page

If Arizona shows a history of not defending their trademark, then that inaction can be used against them in future, significant trademark cases. Harsh, but true.

observist
observist topcommenter

When Arizona fans want to buy their Wildcats gear, they search the internet and are just inundated with Woodrow Wilson High School Wildcat gear,  which they buy and wear as a royalty-avoiding expression of their allegiance to the Arizona Wildcats. This must be costing the university dozens of dollars in lost royalties each year!   

I mean, it's not like the public university was founded to just freely distribute intellectual "property" to any member of the public, right?




LakeWWWooder
LakeWWWooder

The kid who created this logo was a student in the early 1980s.  He was very talented but I doubt he knew copyright laws or had an easy way to search this (you had to go to the library, no internet). Back then copy and paste was with paper and glue and I imagine this Wildcat was all over the place. 

It wasn't really used that widely at Woodrow except on some mimeographed (remember that?) copies and a syllabus here and there.  What was mainly used was a shield/crest designed by another student in the late 1950s or early 60s, along with a "wWw" (Woodrow Wilson WIldcats) monogram and the original  Gothic lettering carved into Bedford Limestone on the front of the school in 1928.  
 

I don't think the student even imagined it would be around for that many years after he graduated. 

So this is a bit silly.  Maybe Arizona is still fuming that one of Woodrow's basketball super stars, Alton Lister, chose Arizona State.

And maybe Woodrow should be suing for the use of "www".

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

If a tax funded university wants to bash public high schools for using their mascot, take away the public funding.  If the mascot is that damn profitable, let IT pay for the damn college.

Wilson
Wilson

I hope DISD and Woodrow did a prior use search to see what AU's wildcat looked like in 1991...

Rumpunch1
Rumpunch1

Welcome to Arizona - we're no longer just dicks to Mexicans.

Greg Pulte
Greg Pulte

bring it Arizona, the wildcat stays...

Aashish Shah
Aashish Shah

This happened to flower mound high school and kansas state university in 2000

Joe Downey
Joe Downey

A bar in Naples Maine called Hard Rick's Cafe which was older than Hard Rock got sued then they put a line and circle as a Protest they sold 30,000 shirts the Next year an IDEA

whocareswhatithink
whocareswhatithink

Someone through a pair of sunglasses on the cat and be done with it

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

My wife used to be editor of an international magazine named "Polo," developed from a newsletter of same name that was established before Ralph Lauren launched his "Polo" clothing line. Ralph Lauren, the company, sued, saying they owned the word, polo. They won. Moral of the story? If the people suing you for infringement are bigger than you, save yourself a ton of legal fees and give up immediately. Most important: if a lawyer tells you, "I can make this go away,"  tell him to go away.

Daniel
Daniel

"The University of Arizona: killing ants with a hammer since 1885."


The logo is, in fact, a direct lift, though. 

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

This is a crock of shit.  The wildcat is widely used mascot at all levels of athletics and schools.  Dont pick such a fucking common animal for your university mascot and you wont have this common problem.    Itd be one thing if they were the fucking Woodrow Jayhawks or Woodrow Meerkats or some shit, but its a wildcat, I guess the Arizona wildcats are as big of a bunch of panzies and the K-state wildcats 

observist
observist topcommenter

Great.  A taxpayer-funded state university is suing a taxpayer-funded public high school a thousand miles away for athletic team mascot trademark infringement.  USA!  USA!  USA!

Montemalone
Montemalone topcommenter

@primi_timpano  

I guess that means we won't be aborting any Wildcats.

Bullets, on the other hand...

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@Wilson this is a wonderful point.  Most colleges change the design of their mascot to either update it, or take it retro

observist
observist topcommenter

@Daniel  No way!  They're TOTALLY different!  The WW cat has a beard,  3 whiskers, and asymmetrical ears, while the Arizona cat has no beard, 2 whiskers and symmetrical ears.  

WW should just change their name to the Bearded Wildcats and this could all be resolved.

Daniel
Daniel

P.S. Sometimes I cannot log in anonymously, often for days on end (no idear why), and I must resort to my official account name, FreewheelinFranklin. We are one and the same. Not a deliberate sock puppet. Full disclosure.

wcvemail
wcvemail

@ScottsMerkin 80 miles up I-30, the Sulphur Springs Wildcats may be next in line to receive The Letter.

observist
observist topcommenter

@ScottsMerkin  There are enough division 1 teams with Wildcat mascots they could have their own postseason basketball tournament:

Arizona, Kansas State, Northwestern, Kentucky, Villanova, New Hampshire, Weber State, Davidson, and Bethune-Cookman.

But Arizona has to go after public high schools?  Seriously, Arizona is like the dickhead capitol of the country.

FreewheelinFranklin
FreewheelinFranklin

@observist @Daniel Yes, it's the equivalent of "putting it in your own words" when lifting material for a school essay. And not altering the syntax or wording sufficiently. Or, as the uptight scolds among us would call it, "plagiarism."



JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@Daniel 

You must resign immediately from your place of employment or business.

MikeSnyder
MikeSnyder

@FreewheelinFranklin @observist @Daniel 

Yes, I concur with FreewheelinFranklin. He is most certainly not Mike Snyder. However, if he wants me to dress up in a French maid costume and bend over while he tickles my anus with a goose feather, I'll do it for fifty -- with an astonishing gusto that far exceeds my original terms of employment. But please do not insult me by asking me to wear a horse bit, Mr. Franklin. I do have my principles: that'll cost an extra twenty.

FreewheelinFranklin
FreewheelinFranklin

@Daniel @JimSX Yes, I concur with Daniel. Those Fire and Police pension people are kind, wise and handsome. They always respond graciously to my oral ministrations. Don't listen to the lamestream media, with its distortions and outright lies. The Museum Tower is a magnificent edifice, and its chief investors are just plain  fun -- and profitable -- to go down on. 

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