OKOBOJI, Iowa | The University of Oregon is backing off a request that Okoboji schools completely phase out the use of a trademarked logo within a year. A new emblem was unveiled last month.
“I think they had it on their uniforms and that takes a little time to fix,” said Nita Nickell, assistant director of marketing and brand management for the Eugene, Ore., university. “They’ve been nice and try to take care of it, and we appreciate that.”
The university in December 2012 contacted the school district saying the Okoboji Pioneer logo – a maroon “O” – looked too much like the Oregon logo, designed by the apparel company Nike.
Superintendent Gary Janssen said they raised issues about copyright infringement.
“The Okoboji 'O' was almost identical to the Oregon 'O' and they asked us to stop using their logo,” Janssen said. “They were looking at it as protecting their turf. We did the right thing and created a new logo.”
The university at first requested that the district change everything within a year, but that was impractical, Janssen said. The school district responded to the university saying it would take five years to completely change the logo.
While banners and letterheads can be a quick and inexpensive fix, uniforms and scoreboards require more time and money to change, Janssen said.
"A fifth of our uniforms are changed every year, so it's going to take five years to run that cycle," Janssen said. "It goes back to time and money. We'll get to it when we can, but we're not going to spend all of our time and resources on changing everything immediately."
Nickell said the university understands the budget issues schools can face. She said enforcing trademark law is an ongoing problem for the university. The school is known for its vibrant athletic uniforms.
“A trademark is a federally registered mark," she said. "It’s a daily issue we always deal with."
The new Okoboji logo features a bearded pioneer wearing a maroon raccoon-skin hat. A Des Moines marketing firm surveyed parents and students.
"We were looking for things like strength, perseverance and leadership with the new logo," Janssen said. "Based on the overall reaction, most of the people were really happy with it."