By STEPHANIE A. JAMES
A long-standing athletic symbol for Appomattox County High School may soon be no more.
With the exception of colors, it has been pointed out to the school that school’s “Block A” design as part of its logo is similar to the University of Arizona’s trademarked design.
Now the high school is looking to make changes to its logo design, after the similarities were pointed out by the Collegiate Licensing Corporation, a trademark licensing company that represents the university.
The corporation requested the school stop using the logo.
“We are in the process of going through changes and phasing it out. We have to change everything,” said ACHS athletic director Chris Dodge.
Those changes include items such as sports merchandise and printed material. The design of the “A” is located on scoreboards on the football, baseball, and softball fields, whether it is on the school’s mascot pirate or stand alone. Also, the design is located on sports uniforms, as well as on stickers on floors and walls.
Dodge said he believes that the high school has been using the “Block A” for about 10 years.
After a new logo design is established, Dodge estimates that it will take four to five years for the removal of all of the current “Block A” designs.
For the changes, there has been a plan outlined and submitted. The university’s attorney already has approved the plan, according to the school division’s attorney Frank Wright, who said that he is waiting for a formal letter stating the university’s approval of the plan.
In that plan, it lists any items that the “Block A” is featured on.
So far, the “Block A” has been removed from all school related and social media websites.
After this year’s season, school officials expect to remove the “Block A” from the back of the football helmets, when they are repainted.
In addition, clothing and items with the “Block A” on them will no longer be sold.
Other plans for removal after the new design is established include the following:
* Floor mats that have the design on them will be removed
* There will be an attempt to remove stickers on the floors of the Career and Technical Education building and gym lobby that have wax on the floors. This will be done when the floors are stripped and re-waxed during the summer of 2014.
* It will take about one to three years to replace the logo on the scoreboards, when they are painted.
Each item that has the current design will be removed depending on funding and resources, said Dodge. There is no estimate on how it would cost to replace design on the items.
Dodge said that the school division hopes to have a new logo in place before August 2014, when the new school year begins.
Prior to choosing a new logo, Dodge said school officials plan to solicit input from the community.
“We want it to be a community decision. They are the ones that support us so we want their input as well. We want it to be a true representation of Appomattox County,” said Dodge.
Since the quest for the search for another logo design, school board member Wyatt Torrence has already offered about 30 new design drawings.
When the school does get a new logo, it will need to be registered with the Virginia High School League.
Before registering it, the school will need to be sure that the new design does not match other schools. An intellectual property attorney, who handles trademark issues, may handle this, said Wright.
ACHS is not alone. Licensing companies are locating similar or identical logos and sending out cease and desist letters requesting that educational institutions change its logo, if it matches another institution.
On a regional level, Liberty University requested that Lipscomb University change its logo after discovering similarities, according to media reports.
In a lot of cases, Wright said that the licensing company sues.
“Fortunately, this was not the case for Appomattox,” added Wright.
This summer, ACHS principal Martha Eagle received a letter dated July 31, from James Aronowitz, attorney of the Collegiate Licensing Company, after they noticed ACHS logos on the school’s website and the Raiders football Facebook page.
Aronowitz explains in the letter the university’s stance on the use of the Block A design.
“Your school’s use of a design that is nearly identical to the Block A design mark may cause consumers to erroneously believe that the University has authorized Appomattox County High School to use its marks. Additionally, it will dilute the distinctiveness of the mark that the public associates with the University,” wrote Aronowitz. “It will also interfere with the University’s ability to effectively market and license the use of the marks in the marketplace.”