West High School will unveil a new Wolf Pack logo during the school’s homecoming celebration on Oct. 25 — the result of a copyright dispute with a Nevada university.
In 2011, representatives of University of Nevada, Reno, objected to West High’s use of a stylized wolf head logo, according to Casey Goodall, Tracy Unified School District’s assistant superintendent for business services.
"An attorney representing UNR contacted us and said, ‘We think you have a copyright infringement problem where you are using our logo,’" Goodall said.
Goodall said that as far as he could tell, the UNR logo and the West High logo in use in 2011 were identical.
When West High opened in 1993, the Wolf Pack logo was a head-on view of a wolf’s head over a yellow "W." That logo was replaced around 2002.
"I think they thought it was old fashioned. They wanted to modernize it," Goodall said.
A Tracy Unified School District employee — no one remembers who — created the 2002 design. Goodall speculated that the person used the UNR logo as a starting point.
"At first, we didn’t know how we got this logo," Goodall said, "but it seems like we possibly went out on the Internet and said, ‘Wouldn’t this be a cool logo?’ and adopted this logo without any great effort."
Legal claims clear
Mike Samuels, associate athletic director for marketing at UNR, saw the disputed Wolf Pack logo when he saw the West High basketball team play.
"It’s rare to have someone take our logo and use it as their own," Samuels said.
He notified Collegiate Licensing Co., which monitors and licenses the use of the university’s logos and trademarks, and the company informed the school district about the copyright infringement.
Letting a high school use the UNR logo could create "brand confusion," Samuels said.
"We spend a lot of money branding our logo," he said.
In the course of a year, the district determined that it had the weaker position, Goodall said.
The university and Tracy Unified School District agreed that the district would stop using the logo on campus and on electronic media, thus avoiding legal action.
The logo was taken off the West High website and letterhead immediately.
Tracy Unified School District also promised to remove the logo from the football field at Steve Lopez Stadium and a wall of Steve Thornton Gymnasium as soon it could without financial hardship.
New face of Wolf Pack
At the start of the 2013-14 school year, work was underway to create a new Wolf Pack logo, which will be unveiled at the West High homecoming game against St. Mary’s High on Oct. 25.
West High Principal Troy Brown said a team of teachers, administrators, coaches and students worked on ideas to submit to B1self, a company that specializes in creating school logos and branding.
A grouping of three wolf heads above the school name was chosen as the final image.
"The kids liked the idea of a few wolf heads for the logo — it’s the same wolf in all of them," Brown said. "It will be fun to have our own logo thought up by our kids and staff. I’m excited about it."
The first 1,000 West High fans entering Steve Lopez Stadium will receive a T-shirt with the new logo.
Goodall said the B1self design — including copyright and a branding book with several versions of the new logo — cost the district $5,500.
"We decided that West High should have their own brand, to protect them from these issues in the future," Goodall said. "It seems like a good plan to have something to defend against when people claim you have stolen their image."
Replacing the logo painted on a wall of Steve Thornton Gymnasium could cost closer to $10,000, Goodall estimated.
The disputed logo is also sewn into the artificial turf at the 50-yard line in Steve Lopez Stadium and will have to be removed. Goodall could not guess how much that might cost.
He said the district might be able to take advantage of a warranty issue with the turf to have it replaced.
"We talked about a 20-year timeline, and they (UNR) were fine with that," Goodall said, "as long as we took aggressive actions to take care of it when we could."
UNR has also agreed to let West High sell the rest of its stock of merchandise that uses the old logo — T-shirts, hats and sweatshirts — without fining the school for the misstep, Goodall said.
"The big concern," Goodall said, "is people in Reno, or really in the NCAA anywhere, can go out on a website and say, ‘Oh, look, here is where I can buy my West High T-shirt online and have it look like Nevada, Reno’s,’ and the money is going somewhere else."
Tracy Unified School District might have to spend more time researching future school logos and mascots, Goodall said.
"I think this will probably change because of this, even at the elementary schools, where you have websites that are so easy to scan," Goodall said. "I think it needs to be a new process from what it has been in the past."
• Contact Glenn Moore at 830-4252 or firstname.lastname@example.org.