West High logo faces copyright challenge
by Glenn Moore
Oct 18, 2013 | 9691 views | 6 6 comments | 51 51 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Wolf Pack logo on the Steve Lopez Stadium sign at West High School will have to be removed, as the logo is too close a match to the University of Nevada, Reno’s copyrighted athletics department logo.  Glenn Moore/Tracy Press
The Wolf Pack logo on the Steve Lopez Stadium sign at West High School will have to be removed, as the logo is too close a match to the University of Nevada, Reno’s copyrighted athletics department logo. Glenn Moore/Tracy Press
The athletics department logo of University of Nevada, Reno.
The athletics department logo of University of Nevada, Reno.

West High School will unveil a new Wolf Pack logo during the school’s homecoming celebration on Oct. 25 — the result of a copyright dispute with a Nevada university.

In 2011, representatives of University of Nevada, Reno, objected to West High’s use of a stylized wolf head logo, according to Casey Goodall, Tracy Unified School District’s assistant superintendent for business services.

"An attorney representing UNR contacted us and said, ‘We think you have a copyright infringement problem where you are using our logo,’" Goodall said.

Goodall said that as far as he could tell, the UNR logo and the West High logo in use in 2011 were identical.

When West High opened in 1993, the Wolf Pack logo was a head-on view of a wolf’s head over a yellow "W." That logo was replaced around 2002.

"I think they thought it was old fashioned. They wanted to modernize it," Goodall said.

A Tracy Unified School District employee — no one remembers who — created the 2002 design. Goodall speculated that the person used the UNR logo as a starting point.

"At first, we didn’t know how we got this logo," Goodall said, "but it seems like we possibly went out on the Internet and said, ‘Wouldn’t this be a cool logo?’ and adopted this logo without any great effort."

Legal claims clear

Mike Samuels, associate athletic director for marketing at UNR, saw the disputed Wolf Pack logo when he saw the West High basketball team play.

"It’s rare to have someone take our logo and use it as their own," Samuels said.

He notified Collegiate Licensing Co., which monitors and licenses the use of the university’s logos and trademarks, and the company informed the school district about the copyright infringement.

Letting a high school use the UNR logo could create "brand confusion," Samuels said.

"We spend a lot of money branding our logo," he said.

In the course of a year, the district determined that it had the weaker position, Goodall said.

The university and Tracy Unified School District agreed that the district would stop using the logo on campus and on electronic media, thus avoiding legal action.

The logo was taken off the West High website and letterhead immediately.

Tracy Unified School District also promised to remove the logo from the football field at Steve Lopez Stadium and a wall of Steve Thornton Gymnasium as soon it could without financial hardship.

New face of Wolf Pack

At the start of the 2013-14 school year, work was underway to create a new Wolf Pack logo, which will be unveiled at the West High homecoming game against St. Mary’s High on Oct. 25.

West High Principal Troy Brown said a team of teachers, administrators, coaches and students worked on ideas to submit to B1self, a company that specializes in creating school logos and branding.

A grouping of three wolf heads above the school name was chosen as the final image.

"The kids liked the idea of a few wolf heads for the logo — it’s the same wolf in all of them," Brown said. "It will be fun to have our own logo thought up by our kids and staff. I’m excited about it."

The first 1,000 West High fans entering Steve Lopez Stadium will receive a T-shirt with the new logo.

Goodall said the B1self design — including copyright and a branding book with several versions of the new logo — cost the district $5,500.

"We decided that West High should have their own brand, to protect them from these issues in the future," Goodall said. "It seems like a good plan to have something to defend against when people claim you have stolen their image."

Righting wrongs

Replacing the logo painted on a wall of Steve Thornton Gymnasium could cost closer to $10,000, Goodall estimated.

The disputed logo is also sewn into the artificial turf at the 50-yard line in Steve Lopez Stadium and will have to be removed. Goodall could not guess how much that might cost.

He said the district might be able to take advantage of a warranty issue with the turf to have it replaced.

"We talked about a 20-year timeline, and they (UNR) were fine with that," Goodall said, "as long as we took aggressive actions to take care of it when we could."

UNR has also agreed to let West High sell the rest of its stock of merchandise that uses the old logo — T-shirts, hats and sweatshirts — without fining the school for the misstep, Goodall said.

"The big concern," Goodall said, "is people in Reno, or really in the NCAA anywhere, can go out on a website and say, ‘Oh, look, here is where I can buy my West High T-shirt online and have it look like Nevada, Reno’s,’ and the money is going somewhere else."

Tracy Unified School District might have to spend more time researching future school logos and mascots, Goodall said.

"I think this will probably change because of this, even at the elementary schools, where you have websites that are so easy to scan," Goodall said. "I think it needs to be a new process from what it has been in the past."

Contact Glenn Moore at 830-4252 or gmoore@tracypress.com.

Comments-icon Post a Comment
October 21, 2013
I really liked this story because it is not a gossipy, violent, story. I'm sure when the logo was picked in 2002, that person never thought in a million years that it would be traced back to the UNR. Think about how simple the internet was back then. So now we have a wrong righted and no one is crying foul anymore or suing for money. It feels like common sense was used for this, and if half of all legal matters could be solved so simply and not greedily, our world might start working again.
October 21, 2013

It’s not hatred or anger.

It’s what are we teaching the kids?

The lesson should be: when you earn a big paycheck and have a lot of responsibility, you must act ethically. When you make a mistake you own up to and accept the consequences.

You don’t take it so lightly and say yeah, they caught us. We don’t know how it happened. Yeah, it’s gonna cost some money- $5,000 here, $10,000 there, and who knows about the field, but at least we’re gonna give out t-shirts!

It’s very generous of you Ornely to take the blame. Now will you please step up with the check? The school board meets on Tuesdays- they will accept your generous donation then.

October 22, 2013
I hope that ya never are guilty of committin an error in judgment. Would you be so willin ta apply yer same level of accountability ta yerself? If this was a purposeful, preplanned violation of th law, that would be one thang. Apparently it wasn't. When people make ignorant mistakes should they be fired for it or should compassionate education an ultimate forgiveness be the response? Yes, what are we teachin th children is very important. Intolerance an persecution of those who error or instruction and forgiveness to prevent such thangs from happenin again. Must we destroy careers an thus harm families that depend on the wages derived from those jobs? A mistake/error was made, it was uncovered and sensibly dealt with. I don't know about you but that's what I would rather see our children larn rather than total and complete intolerance. Zero tolerance has not taught students the lessons those who passed zero tolerance laws so perhaps dealing with people as individuals an takin appropriate action that fit th circumstances might be a better way.

Yer talkin like th effect an damages caused by this is gonna be paid outa yer personal pocket. Given that financial burden will be shared by all those who pay property tax, which is whair yer school related monies essentially come frum, yer share will probably be on th order of twenty-five ta fifty cents. Small price ta pay fer compassion an education. Fer one, this certainly better informs all people, which includes students, about copyright laws.

I frequently see copyright law violations whair otherwise honest people are caught breakin em.

When was th last time ya were in a nursery school environment with Disney effigies or other characters from other professional sources are painted all over th walls for th children's enjoyment? Disney corp is very active in protectin their intellectual property which is thair lawful right an it often backfires on em because of th outrage of th general public that feels characters like Mikey Mouse an Donald Duck belong ta th public domain. How much better would Disney's message be received if they first asked for those thangs ta be removed from th walls an then take sterner steps if they weren't vice just steppin in with big fines ta punish those who have used thair properly incorrectly an illegally? Is it "shoot first an then ask questions" or would a better approach, which I feel is a more sensible one ta check out th matter an if it's just a dumb mistake made out of ignorance, let it slide?

No one, other than people's egos, were harmed an th damages are minimal. I can live with that providing th same thang don't happen again. I can forgive ignorance but have no tolerance for those who are willingly stupid. Thair is a difference ya know.

But let's go with yer scenario fer a moment.

Remember, no tolerance for going even one mile over th speed limit next time ya drive. It's th law an if ya violate it ya should pay th penalty fer yer actions. How bout that time ya don't come ta a complete stop at th stop sign. Ya should be busted, no tolerance, no excuse cause ya know th law an know better. Don't hedge those yellow lights either, that's against th law. On yer income tax, make certain all those deductions ya take are entirely legal as well. No tolerance if ya don't.

Now I don't believe or know or even care if yer doin those thangs but yer point of order/no tolerance approach don't seem ta work an if yer honest with yerself no tolerance ain't exactly workin fer you either. Good thang or our jails an courts would be filled with people bein punished with no tolerance in mind. How many good school children have come ta a bad end because of no tolerance rules applied blindly in th school systems? A student takes a knife from another young student in a public park, takes th knife ta th school office ta turn it in an gets permanently expelled frum th school because of its no tolerance rules about weapons on th school grounds. Sounds absurd don't it? But it actually happened right here at Tracy High School one year. Th student was doin th right thang, protectin other students, attemptin ta turn th weapon ta th proper school authorities an was forced ta graduate from some other school away from his peers an friends and a black mark on his school record that will follow him fer th rest of his life. And all of that for basically doin th right thang. Nope, no tolerance laws, rules an ways of dealin with people don't work an should be abandoned.

People are individuals an should be treated as such as th situation warrants. No big deal here except ta those who somehow feel they should be given a free pass on thair infractions while holdin th feet of others ta th fire for thair infractions.
October 22, 2013
BTW, didn't mention hatred just anger on yer part. Ya provided th hatred bit yerself.
October 20, 2013
Who is going to be fired for this mistake?

Or is acceptable for thousands of taxpayer dollars to be spent to correct a mistake of this magnitude?

Someone must be held accountable.
October 21, 2013

Well since yer lookin fer th scapegoat, just save yerself all th trouble an blame me.

Yep, it's a copyright infringement all right an it's apparent th person that used th logo didn't know it. I am certain th person has received instruction but in reality it's not a very big deal an, other than th cost of changin th signage not a really big deal.

Now it would be a big deal if they didn't change it. Even then, it don't exactly make UNR look good in th public eye. Sort of makes em look like a bully pickin on a small school. They could easily, an no one would really care, allow th school ta use th logo. What great advertisement fer thair school would that be.

But given th overall outcome, I wonder now many West High Students would consider attendin UNR after this?

Apparently UNR isn't really th bad guy here or takin undue action against th school over this. After all, they are allowin th school ta SELL OFF it's inventory of school spirit items containing thair logo when they could easily have demanded th stuff be destroyed.

It's apparent all realized it was just a dumb mistake and are handlin it correctly. So why all th anger ta hang someone?

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