Mascots, team names used without permission, Arlington school officials say

Posted Tuesday, Apr. 30, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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The Arlington school district has filed a lawsuit against a company in Michigan for using the names, mascots and school colors of its high schools without the district’s permission.

The suit, filed April 4 in a District Court in Tarrant County, alleges that Licensing Resource Group continues to market, license, distribute and sell the merchandise representing Arlington schools despite warnings dating from 2011.

The lawsuit names Michael Van Wieren of Holland, Mich., as vice president and general counsel of the company. LRG Prep is the high school marketing arm of the business.

The suit alleges that LRG Prep sent licensing agreements and royalty checks to individual Arlington schools in early 2011 without district consent. LRG had been licensing and selling merchandise with Arlington school mascots and team names to retailers including Wal-Mart and Dick’s Sporting Goods, the lawsuit says.

Despite a cease-and-desist letter the district sent in late 2011 demanding that the products be taken off the shelves, LRG continued to market the merchandise, the district says, and has sent licensing agreements to schools as recently as April 2012.

LRG says the high school program does not harm the fundraising of booster clubs and spirit shops because it focuses on large national and regional retailers who sell spirit merchandise.

Arlington school officials consider it direct competition with the district-run storefront at The Parks Mall named Spirit Threads.

Spirit Threads has seven employees and is the setting for a district-wide marketing class, AISD Class in the Parks. The store brings in about $60,000 in revenue to the district’s general operating fund every year.

Other districts have dealt with the issue of licensing school symbols. Southlake’s Carroll district trademarked its Carroll Dragon logo several years ago and offers one-year licensing agreements to corporate sponsors who want to use it in their advertising or retail sales.

AISD is seeking an injunction against LRG, as well as profits made off sales of Arlington schools’ spirit wear, monetary damages from $100,000 to $200,000, unspecified punitive damages, attorney fees and court costs.

Arlington school officials would not comment on the pending litigation.

“Of course LRG Prep disagrees with the facts as alleged,” Van Wieren said. “However, we are in contact with AISD’s counsel and are working toward a resolution. Given that we are working toward a resolution, I am not able to say more at this time.”

Shirley Jinkins, 817-390-7657 Twitter: @shirljinkins

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