Unraveling the Logo Design Paradox: A Guide to Avoiding Legal Pitfalls


In the digital era, a school’s logo is more than just a symbol – it’s an identifier, inspires unity, communicates core values, and an emblem of professionalism. As district leaders, it’s your duty to ensure that your logo accurately reflects your institution’s values and is protected.


But creating a logo can be akin to navigating a labyrinth. One popular approach is to host design competitions, fostering community engagement. But even this can lead to unexpected problems.


Take the case of Dallas’s Woodrow Wilson High, which faced a lawsuit from the Collegiate Licensing Company (CLC), the collegiate rights holder of many colleges. The CLC accused Woodrow Wilson High of using a wildcat logo too similar to the University of Arizona’s trademarked one.


What’s interesting about this lawsuit is that the school used the logo CLC objected to sparingly. Their primary logo was actually a near replica of Kansas State’s Powercat logo. However, Kansas State isn’t a CLC client and was okay with high schools using its logo, highlighting the complexities of trademark and licensing laws.


The Woodrow Wilson High incident underlines that even seemingly harmless design practices can lead to complicated legal issues without a clear understanding of these laws.


Here are some best practices to avoid such scenarios:

  1. Engage Professionals: Graphic designers can ensure that your logo is both impactful and complies with copyright laws.
  2. Educate Participants: If hosting a design competition, ensure participants understand the implications of using copyrighted material.
  3. Strive for Originality: Avoid using clip art or generic fonts. They not only limit your logo’s uniqueness but can come with licensing strings attached.
  4. Review the Submissions: Implement a process to confirm the originality of each design.
  5. Seek Legal Counsel: Ensure legal advice is incorporated into the design process to flag potential copyright issues.


In conclusion, the logo design process can be a delicate balancing act. It allows you to express your school’s identity and build community spirit. However, remember to navigate this process with a blend of creativity, caution, and legal prudence. A great logo doesn’t only look good—it’s also original and legally sound. For more information on developing a logo and trademarking the new design, feel free to reach out to us! 


Resource: https://www.ebaqdesign.com/blog/trademark-logo