SBD/Issue 154/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

Univ. Of Pittsburgh Orders Ohio HS To Stop Using Panther Logo


The panther head logo at Whitmer High School's football stadium in Toledo is "said to be Ohio's largest high school field logo," but Univ. of Pittsburgh officials contend that the image "belongs to" their school, according to Christopher Kirkpatrick of the TOLEDO BLADE. Pitt contacted the Toledo school district "earlier this month and ordered the high school to stop using it." Superintendent Patrick Hickey said that a Whitmer student "has since created a new panther logo and the district plans to trademark it." But he noted that to remove the "existing logo from the three-year-old football field, its basketball hard court, and from the back stadium wall would mean 'enormous dollars.'" Hickey said that the image is "'sewn' into the state-of-the-art turf" on the football field, and painting over or covering the logo "might void the warranty." He added that the school district "asked the university for mercy in an April 15 letter, which outlines a remedial course of action for withdrawing the logo from use," though Pitt has yet to respond. Hickey "agrees the logo looks virtually the same as one the university owns," but he said that he "doubts the university would want to financially harm a local school district." Ohio High School Athletic Association Associate Commissioner Bob Goldring said that protection of collegiate trademarks "has become more focused and aggressive in recent years, and local school systems could run afoul." Whitmer High School AD Tom Snook noted that "about five years ago, the school started using" the panther head as a secondary logo. Snook said that the logo's use has since "blossomed, and it was drawn into plans for the new football stadium and its fancy new turf" (TOLEDO BLADE, 4/23).

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