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Blog Entry

Iowa, Southern Miss in spat over logo similarity

Posted on: August 3, 2011 11:08 am
Edited on: August 3, 2011 11:09 am

By Matt Norlander

One of these things looks just like the other?

Nine years after the Southern Miss logo became official, folks affiliated with the University of Iowa still aren't too fond of the Golden Eagle. That Golden Eagle which looks so menacing and concerned over the perpetual mediocre state of Conference USA, where it resides. (That's Southern Miss on the left and Iowa on the right, in case you need the clarification.)

In 2004 there was a push to make USM change its logo, but that didn't pan out.

But Iowa recently brought the issue to officials again, thanks to a trademark attempt on behalf of Southern Miss. That attempt failed, as the United States Patent and Trademark Office thought the two bird brains looked too much alike. Now USM is in a bit of a scramble. Could Southern Miss be forced to change its logo in the near-future? Think about how much money would have to go into that -- changing uniforms, fields, courts. New shirts, pants, hats, etc.
Jason Bush, an attorney with Baker Donelson in Jackson, said USM could appeal the decision, which was made by the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, to the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C.

“In the alternative,” wrote Bush in an email, “USM has the option of presenting additional evidence or raising additional claims in the United States District Court in any district venue that is proper.”

Giannini and other USM officials have long argued that the logos bare little resemblance.

USM unveiled its new Golden Eagle logo in January 2003 in an overhaul of the athletic department’s brand — and it quickly became part of the school’s athletic identity.

This comes down to money. Schools want to sell gear. Similar logos blend brands. Iowa is a much bigger brand than Southern Miss. Here's what one of the judges, David Bucher, told the Des-Moines Register:

“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 wrote that he found fault in USM’s argument:

“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.”

What do you think? Are they similar enough? I really don't think so. But now I'm rooting for these two to somehow line up in a 7-10 NCAA tournament game next March.
Category: NCAAB

Since: May 13, 2010
Posted on: August 3, 2011 3:53 pm

Iowa, Southern Miss in spat over logo similarity

I don't think they look anything alike.  One is a has the bottom beak turning a f'n parrot I tell ya. 


Since: Jun 13, 2011
Posted on: August 3, 2011 3:42 pm

Iowa, Southern Miss in spat over logo similarity

As a manufacturer/marketer of collegiate licensed fan products, it's interesting to me that only 16 or so of the ncaa's 346 Division-I schools independently manage their own Trademark Licensing programs...and that both Iowa and USM are among those 16.   [The rest are managed by bloodthirsty lawsharks at either the CLC (Collegiate Licensing Company), the LRG (Licensing Resources Group) or SMA (Strategic Marketing Affiliates).]  I've no doubts USM will soon dump it's failed trademark legal hassles with one of the shark clans. 

Since: Apr 9, 2007
Posted on: August 3, 2011 3:17 pm

Iowa, Southern Miss in spat over logo similarity

If anything, it looks more like the Herky logo before the Tiger Hawk was introduced.

Since: Aug 26, 2006
Posted on: August 3, 2011 3:09 pm

Iowa, Southern Miss in spat over logo similarity

Pretty sure Iowa hoops fans would LOVE to see them involved in this alleged "7-10 NCAA tournament game"

Since: Sep 15, 2010
Posted on: August 3, 2011 3:07 pm

Iowa, Southern Miss in spat over logo similarity

Birds of prey (true hawks, eagles, kites, etc) do have similar facial features.  However, most people can tell the difference between a hawk and an eagle.  USM's logo clearly resembles the head of a golden eagle and Iowa's resembles just about any bird of prey.  Yes, the color scheme and direct of the heads are similar, but that is about it.  Even if USM changed the color scheme and/or the direct of the head, that may still not be enough to appease the Patent Office.  The Patent Office is playing a dangerous game because that could open the door for lawsuits from any school that uses animals (and possibly humans) as its logo.  After all there are only so many different ways you can draw an animal's paw print, face, or entire body.   

Since: Nov 27, 2006
Posted on: August 3, 2011 2:06 pm

Iowa, Southern Miss in spat over logo similarity

The two do not even really look alike to me. Other than both being yellow and facing right, I see little similarity.

It is easy to distinguish between the two for sure. If you look at knock off basketball shoes, they are much harder to distinguish china-nike from real Nike.

I do not see this lawsuit going anywhere...............

Since: Sep 30, 2008
Posted on: August 3, 2011 1:39 pm

Iowa, Southern Miss in spat over logo similarity

I meant, I would NOT want USMs logo

As far as it being "lousy" couldn't disagree more, one of the most recognizable in College Sports.

Since: Sep 30, 2008
Posted on: August 3, 2011 1:36 pm

Iowa, Southern Miss in spat over logo similarity

Well I am a HUGE Iowa fan, so you know this will be biased.

The USM logo is very similar to the Tiger Hawk.  The Tiger Hawk has been part of the Iowa brand since 1979 when Hayden Fry took over our football program.

As far as different geographies making the point moot.  I couldn't disagree more.  With the internet, satellite TV etc.  Geography is somewhat irrelevant.  In fact, in a wal mart in Iowa, they were sent Southern Miss hats marked as Iowa hats.  Don't tell me it doesn't matter.

As far as which one looks better, opinions may vary, but the Tiger Hawk is extremely recognizable, simple and FANTASTIC.  I would want USMs logo at all.  IOWA's is so much better.

Since: May 10, 2007
Posted on: August 3, 2011 1:33 pm

Iowa, Southern Miss in spat over logo similarity

I see no infringment. The Hawk is a very popular mascot. The Hawk is indiginous to both areas of the country. Hawks in Southern Missisippi look very much the same as hawks in Iowa. When you accent a hawks most prominant features, the eye, beak and the shape of the head, your going to get a similar logo. It seems to me Iowa uses a very lously hawk stencil image featuring the three traits mentioned above. Guess what, all hawk logos have those. No surprise, so does S. Miss. Since football hements are standardized from Iowa to Miss., there is a limited number of practicle shapes to stick on the side. Both went with the oval, easily probably the most common and practicle shape to put on a football helment.

I think Iowa is just mad they have a crappy logo.

Since: Mar 25, 2009
Posted on: August 3, 2011 1:13 pm

Iowa, Southern Miss in spat over logo similarity

What do I think?

I think it's a stretch, even by your standards Norlander (not quite as much as a stretch as the David Salinas issue that you're trying to turn into a "story"), to infer that either of these two "brands" is national.  Given that they aren't in the same conference or in the same geographical region, this should be a non-issue.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or