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NC State fights Loyola over Wolfpack

Staff Writer

Published: Thursday, March 24, 2011

Updated: Friday, March 25, 2011 11:03

havoc

Chika John/Staff Photographer

Havoc takes a rest after her attempt to please the crowd by flipping and dancing with the cheerleaders during a Friday game in the gym. Loyola is fighting to keep the Wolfpack as the school’s mascot.

 

Loyola's Wolfpack could be the newest addition to the endangered species list. After receiving a letter from North Carolina State University, Loyola's legal use of the Wolfpack is now in question.

The letter, sent Feb. 23, states that Loyola's current use of the Wolfpack mark on athletic goods and services constitutes trademark infringement.

"NC State is the owner of the registered mark ‘Wolfpack' . . . for use in conducting college-level men's and women's sporting events," reads the letter, sent by Shawn C. Troxler, assistant general counsel at NC State, to Gita Bolt, Loyola's counsel.

The letter also states that, "use of a mark that is identical to that of NC State in connection with similar services is likely to cause confusion and violates NC State's rights under federal and trademark law."

According to NC State, as well as the United States Patent and Trademark Office, the Wolfpack mark was registered by NC State in 1983, which allows them to use the mark on promotional materials, as well as on many commercial goods.

When NC State found out about Loyola's similar use of the mark, they sent the letter. "The purpose of the letter was to start a dialogue to address the issue," said Gregg Zarnstorff, director of Trademark Licensing at NC State.

As the owner of the trademark, NC State is required to take action against other users, whether their use is predatory, abusive or unknowing, Zarnstorff said.

"I have to believe that in this case, Loyola University did not know that we held a federal registration for ‘Wolfpack,' and that we can reach an agreement with them that will be satisfactory to both universities," he said.

"It's been our traditional name and logo for years," said Michael Giorlando, athletics director and head men's basketball coach, on the importance of keeping the Wolfpack mascot. It's currently unclear how many years Loyola has used the mascot.

Despite the legal registration of the mark, NC State also claims to have used the Wolfpack mark for sporting events since at least 1947, though references to the Wolves and the ‘Pack date back to at least 1932 in Loyola's yearbooks. Rights to a trademark can arise through the use of a mark in commerce, not just through registration, making the first use of the Wolfpack mark legally significant.

Bolt does not believe this will turn into a larger legal issue or that Loyola will have to change their mascot. "We're working out the matter," Bolt said.

As of March 21, both universities were in discussions over the issue. University officials declined to comment further, citing pending legal issues related to it.

The only other university to use the Wolfpack mascot is the University of Nevada, Reno. Rhonda Lundin, the university's associate athletics director of communications, said NC State contacted them about a year ago, regarding a specific logo they had used in the 1960s and 1970s that closely resembled the primary logo at NC State.

"We really just use it in a throwback way," she said. The two universities came to an agreement that allows the University of Nevada, Reno to continue using it.

"It just has to be very clear that it's University of Nevada using that, not NC State," she said.

Brooke Wallig, reporter at The Technician, NC State's newspaper, contributed to this story.

Erin Clements can be reached at

eeclemen@loyno.edu

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