Trademarked athletic logos (or: Why your "W" looks too much like my "W")

ndmike's picture

Interesting article in today's Des Moines Register about a small Iowa school district that must change its athletic logo to avoid a trademark dispute with the University of Wisconsin.

U. of Wisconsin's logo:

Waukee High's logo:

Snip from the article:

There are only so many ways to reproduce the letter I. You have to be super-creative to come up with something unique. In fact, one might even say there is no such thing as a unique letter I. Almost every variation is merely a matter of typography. The same could be said about the letter W. That's why I hope Wisconsin didn't shell out the big bucks for this unique design.

Here's how unique it is. See that W to the left? Looks a lot like Wisconsin's, doesn't it? I created this original W on my laptop in eight seconds. It's one of the type fonts in Microsoft Word. The Wisconsin W is three buttons away. Click "font" then "DispatchCond bold" then "control I" for italics. There it is. So which came first? DispatchCond bold italics or the "motion W"? Is it possible to trademark a type style?

The need to educate the author in the art of logo design notwithstanding (only 8 seconds!!) and trademark and copyright law (sadly, type designs themselves are not protected by either, but their names are), I'm curious as to your thoughts?

And, anybody up for doing some pro bono design work for Waukee so that their football team has something on their helmets next year?

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