Borrowed logo must go

School district receives “cease and desist” letter over university logo

Christine Politte, Editor-in-Chief

The school district is beginning a costly, long-term transition to a new logo after receiving a cease-and-desist letter from the University of Miami for using a logo similar to the university’s, according to district officials.

The letter was originally sent in an email to Mr. Malcolm Hill, assistant principal and athletic director, in early September. He brought it to the attention of Mr. Michael Maclin, principal, and Superintendent Pruitt.

“I was a little bit surprised,” said Pruitt. “At first I didn’t understand the issue. The issue is the split U with different colors on each side.”

The University of Miami logo is a letter U split vertically down the middle, half orange and half green. According to Mr. Hill, University City has been using a black and gold U in the same style for the last 10-12 years. The University of Miami has had their logo for 42 years, according to the website of the Miami Hurricane, the university’s student newspaper.

“Their logo is trademarked,” said Pruitt. “We did some research to see if we had gone through the proper procedure to use the logo. We could not find evidence of that.”

It appears that the football coach and athletic director at the time decided it was time to change the image, said Pruitt.

“There was no formal procedure for it,” she said. “It just started appearing on uniforms.”

It is important to note that the University of Miami did not sue the school district; instead, they sent the cease and desist letter to make the school district aware of the situation.

“They’re actually doing us a favor because they can bring us straight to court or have a lawsuit against us,” said Hill. “I think they did the most professional thing by contacting us.”

The school district declined to provide the U-Times a copy of the letter, citing a Missouri law closing records involving legal actions.

It is not clear how the University of Miami became aware of the U. City logo. The university did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

The district worked with the university to make a timeline to phase out the logo by 2019, according to Pruitt.

“If we had to do it all at one time, it would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars,” she said.

As long as the district meets the timeline, she said, the matter is considered resolved.

In order to comply with the university, Hill said, the district must replace uniforms, signs, mats, and the floor of the high school gymnasium.

News of the letter has not been well-received among students.

“I think that’s disappointing,” said Taylor Bass, senior. “We’ve been using [the logo] for a long time. It’s not that serious.”

Gabe Dean, senior, agreed.

“Why are they coming after U. City?” he said. “We’re a small local high school. There are so many other schools that use that logo,” he said, citing Union high school as an example.

Ms. Susan Hill, assistant principal, compared the situation to being pulled over on the highway when everyone else is speeding too.

“I know a lot of other high schools in the area are violating trademark law with their issues, and no one’s going after them,” she said.

A new U. City logo is currently in development, according to Pruitt.

“We know the students really liked the split U,” she said.

Students will have a chance to vote on the new logo, which the district will trademark.