August 27, 2010

FSU Seminoles blast high-school Seminoles

FSU should lighten up over Southeast logo useHow does any high school “cease and desist” on a cherished tradition? For generations, the Southeast High School Seminoles have charged the gridiron, stalked the basketball court and cheered the sidelines under proud banners displaying a distinctive spear and Indian head.

But now Florida State University accuses Southeast of breaking trademark law and demands the high school quit using the Seminole name, logos, slogans and mascot. How does Southeast diminish FSU’s identity over those marks, as the university’s representative claims?
And:Legendary FSU football coach Bobby Bowden has visited the Southeast campus numerous times recruiting such players as the great Peter Warrick. Other university officials have known about Southeast’s logo for decades, too. Doesn’t that long-standing knowledge constitute tacit approval?

And what does the Seminole Tribe think about all this? The Indian nation played a major role in the development of FSU’s logos, and should have some influence in this legal controversy.

The Collegiate Licensing Company represents FSU in this, led by associate general counsel Jim Aronowitz. In his letter to Southeast demanding the school cleanse all logos and marks from stationary, uniforms, scoreboards and the gym floor, Aronowitz claims the high school is interfering with the university’s “ability to effectively market and license the use” of those logos.

This is all about money. Shameful.
Comment:  So one group of fake Seminoles is protesting another group of fake Seminoles? Nice.

It's one thing to to use exact duplicates of FSU's logos, slogans, and mascots. That sounds like a trademark violation, all right. The Southeast High School Seminoles should come up with their own logos, slogans, and mascots.

The name seems like a different matter to me. I don't think a non-Indian institution should be able to trademark "Seminoles" any more than it could trademark "Americans." The various Seminole tribes should have control over their own name.

If a non-Indian institution can trademark a tribe's name, then what? If the Seminole Tribe opened a "Seminole" restaurant and FSU already had one, could FSU challenge the tribe's use of its own name? Could FSU sell or license its Seminoles name to a biker club, a porn shop, or an anti-casino group? If these things are legal, they shouldn't be.

Obviously, I'd prefer it if the local Seminole tribe decided who could or couldn't use its name. If it wanted to grant the right to the high school, I'd say tough tootsies to FSU. Either accept the high school's name, which won't harm your business, or find yourself another name.

For more on the subject, see Seminole Jerseys Honor Nike and Why FSU's Seminoles Aren't Okay.

Below:  "Chief Osceola" mascot imitates a "savage" Plains Indian with horse, spear, and warpaint. Yeah, we wouldn't a high school imitating this mascot. That would perpetuate some stupid stereotypes. Those are FSU's stupid stereotypes, not the high school's!

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