Florida School Icon Ignites Controversy

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We’ve all heard that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and this certain seems to be the case with school mascots and logos. When a community is choosing a mascot for a new school, the most popular choice is often that of a locally popular professional or college team. In many cases, the school will make slight changes to the logo to avoid being a direct copy, but the result is generally a recognizable facsimile.

The NFL and other professional teams are generally okay with this practice, mainly because a child’s team is not in competition with the pros and thus will not create any confusion. If anything, it helps to build the team’s fan base. However, more and more colleges are feeling threatened by high school using similar mascots and logos—threatened enough to sue.

Southeast High School in Florida is just the latest high school to deal with this issue. Florida State University recently contacted the high school asking them to cease using the Seminole name and image within the next five years. This would not only chip away at the school spirit wrapped up in this mascot, it would also cost the school more than $100,000 to change all instances where the mascots name appears. The school board is trying to come up with a compromise, but the college is refusing to budge. Southeast has used the Seminole logo continuously for more than fifty years, with a different color scheme than FSU.

One of the major concerns for college teams that find their logo being infringed upon is the sale of licensed merchandise. Often, the colleges have exclusive deals with specific manufacturers and retailers. Unlicensed merchandise can become a substantial threat under these circumstances. Many colleges depend on licensing income for their day to day operations. Schools with well known sports teams often are even more dependent on these funds.

Other colleges claim that their hands are tied in the matter because allowing schools to use their logo may result in the image and name becoming public domain. While one school would not create this effect, hundreds of them certainly might.

Southeast High School is not the only school dealing with this issue. It has become quite a hot topic in Florida, where colleges across the state are demanding that local high schools stop using their logos and mascots. Glades Day in Palm Beach is facing the same action from University of Florida. In a similar situation, Lake Mary High in Orlando, Florida was recently sued by Chrysler for using a ram’s head logo similar to that of the car maker.

If you are having a school mascot or any type of logo designed, it is important that it be completely unique. Otherwise, your company could face the same problem as these Florida schools and be faced with astronomical expenses in the future. Your company deserves a n image and a brand that is completely and uniquely yours. The only way to accomplish this is to talk to a professional logo designer today.