In Florida, there are 3,629 public schools totaling more than 2.5 million students. All of these schools need a mascot, whether it’s as clich as the Lions, Tigers or Bears, or as original as the Grenadiers of Colonial High School in Orlando.
High schools’ mascots are visible and well known, representing entire communities on and off athletic playing fields and courts.
This is also why they’re the most vulnerable to copyright infringement from third parties who resent a school using their logo’s likeness.
However, these high schools are not in the business of selling massive amounts of paraphernalia featuring a similar logo. They’re centers of education and socialization that are often underfunded as they work toward creating a better society for the future of America.
The mascots that adorn their courts, jerseys and fields should not be the target of overly aggressive copyright hounds who seem to have nothing better to do than bully schools that pose no serious threat to their enterprise.
Recently, the University of Florida and Florida State University have been especially aggressive in their attempts to stop any Florida high school from using anything remotely similar to their logos.
Earlier this month, UF sent cease and desist letters to Palm Beach Gardens Community High School and Glades Day School in Palm Beach County stating their Gator logos are too similar to the university’s. Glades Day School has already agreed to eliminate its logo – at a cost of up to $60,000.
FSU did the same thing in August to Southeast High School in Bradenton – also the Seminoles – because the blue and orange spear featured on Southeast’s helmets is the same as FSU’s. Immokalee High – the Indians – features the same spear on its football helmets, but in a different color.
Southeast says it could cost them more than $100,000 to change a logo that’s 29 years old and a staple of their community.
Even Chrysler Motor Company has stopped the use of its logo by Lake Mary High School in Seminole County.
Copyright laws are an important aspect of society that protect inventiveness, creativity and the profits that are incurred. This doesn’t mean that non-profit high schools can’t have a cheesy mascot resembling other popular aspects of society – they’re neutral bodies.
These schools are no threat to UF, FSU or Chrysler and, if anything, are compliments that will boost their popularity.
More than penalizing students, their families and communities, these efforts are an attack on Florida’s already cash-strapped state schools.
By continuing to target high school mascots, UF, FSU and Chrysler may want to reconsider their petty grievances.