Logo Showdown: Iowa Hawkeyes Clips Southern Miss Golden Eagle

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The University of Southern Mississippi has been trying to trademark the Golden Eagle logo it introduced almost nine years ago, but a three-judge panel won’t allow it, according to The Hattiesburg American. The issue is that the logo looks too similar to the Tiger Hawk emblem of the University of Iowa’s Hawkeyes. The application for the trademark was denied in a 2-1 vote last week, the paper reports.

“Our attorneys are reviewing the decision by the judges,” USM athletic director Richard Giannini said Tuesday, according to the American. “Until we have their review, we’re not really going to comment on it.”

If that logo is history, USM has some changes to make since it is painted on the turf of the football stadium and on the school’s basketball court, not to mention on the uniforms of the university’s football players, TV broadcasts, and every imaginable piece of clothing that USM’s alumni and fans now proudly wear.[more]

Judge David Bucher’s ruling described the argument at the heart of the trademark dispute: 

“Specifically, (USM) argues that each of the Iowa Hawkeyes marks is a collection of four separate silhouette shapes put together in close proximity creating a two dimensional image that is then displayed against backgrounds of changing colors. (USM) suggests that each Iowa Hawkeyes mark has the simplicity of a stenciled or stamped image. By contrast, Southern Miss argues that its new eagle head is more complex, having the ‘fierce eyed gaze of independence’ and the ‘black peak of the beak’ to create a ‘symbol of courage and power, reminiscent of Roman soldiers … going into battle [with] a crimson banner with a golden eagle emblazoned on the banner.’”

Bucher, however, didn’t see it that way, writing, “The overall similarity in appearance of the marks on the goods, particularly in light of the use of identical color schemes, creates virtually identical commercial impressions.”

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