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UC embattled over Bearcats logo

The Associated Press

RIDGEFIELD, Conn.

Thursday, February 01, 2001

RIDGEFIELD, Conn. – The University of Cincinnati has a new basketball opponent: the Ridgefield High School Tigers.

The dispute is over team logos. The Collegiate Licensing Co. says Ridgefield’s design of an orange paw print above the team name looks too much like the university’s Bearcat logo. Cincinnati’s logo uses a ”C” as part of a paw print.

The Atlanta-based company, which handles licensing for 185 college teams and the National Collegiate Athletic Association, has asked the town to change the logo to eliminate any confusion.

Lawyers for the school board believe the town did not violate the law.

”I think we are going to question their conclusions and see what their response is,” said school board attorney Larry Campane.

The town paid about $5,000 for 60 uniforms after the Ridgefield varsity basketball coaches and players approved the logo last spring.

The University of Cincinnati receives in about $1 million a year from sweat shirts, mugs and other items bearing its symbol. The school has reached the NCAA tournaments in recent years.

”We’re very concerned that it remain the trademark that will provide some benefit to our libraries and scholarship programs,” said University of Cincinnati spokesman Greg Hand.

But many at the high school believe the request is unwarranted.

”I think it’s ludicrous. We are a high school – we don’t get TV revenue, we don’t get sneaker contracts,” said Ridgefield athletic director Chip Salvestrini.

Still, the 22-year veteran of school athletics is uncertain of how far the town should go.

”In anything, you pick and choose your battles,” Salvestrini said. ”If you are going to fight for $5,000 (the cost of the uniforms) and it costs $100,000 in legal bills, I don’t think it’s worth it.”

Bruce Siegel, vice president and general counsel for Collegiate Licensing, said few of the hundreds of similar letters sent to schools and other groups a year go to court.

”Usually, when you send out a letter like that, it’s an invitation to negotiate,” said Philip French, a Stamford lawyer who specializes in patent and trademark law.