Rockdale County's Salem High and Memorial Middle schools were served with a cease and desist letter from Florida State University last August regarding their use of the name, "spear design and Seminole head."
Two metro Atlanta schools, already facing massive budget cuts, will now have to come up with money to remove any representation of their Seminoles logos after reaching a legal settlement with Florida State University.
Rockdale County's Salem High and Memorial Middle schools received a letter from the university last August requesting they cease using the Seminoles name, "spear design and Seminole head." The Rockdale County Board of Education voted Thursday to accept a settlement offer that allows the schools to keep the name, though it may only be used when preceded by either Salem High or Memorial Middle.
"I thought it was a joke," said school board member Darlene Hotchkiss, referring to the letter. "Why are they going after the little guys?"
The missive, sent by the Collegiate Licensing Company on behalf of the university, said the schools' logo and mascot "may cause consumers to erroneously believe that the university has authorized Salem High School to use its marks. Additionally, it will dilute the distinctiveness of the marks that the public associates with the university."
Other schools also received the letter, including Westside High in Bibb County and Fairburn's Creekside High, FSU's trademark licensing director told the Macon Telegraph. But a spokeswoman for the Fulton County School System couldn't confirm whether Creekside had received any such order.
"We’re not trying to put them in a financial bind," the licensing director told the paper. "To get this all acknowledged is the main thing. If it takes five years, it takes five years."
Five years or not, the eventual cost could top $200,000, Hotchkiss told the AJC.
"It's a moving target," she said. "We're already looking at a $10 million deficit. Now we're going to have to replace gym floors at both schools, order new business cards, new uniforms and band apparel ..."
The school board's attorney estimated a legal fight would cost roughly $250,000.
"Where does it end?" said Rockdale County Board of Education Vice Chairwoman Jean Yontz, noting that her grandson plays for a Little League baseball team that shares the name, colors and logo with the Kansas City Royals. Yontz and Hotchkiss voted against accepting the settlement.
"It was a matter of principle for me," Yontz said. "We're not making money off the the Seminoles, but now we're going to have to take money away from education to pay for this."
According to the agreement, Salem High and Memorial Middle must stop using the Seminole head and spear design. It has until Aug. 1 to remove them from their football helmets.
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