MOUNTAIN CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — The University of Texas has asked the Johnson County school system to change Johnson County High School’s longhorn logo.
That’s according to Stephen Long, supervisor of athletics for Johnson County schools.
Long says the university sent the school system a cease-and-desist letter, claiming Johnson County High School’s longhorn logo is a copyright infringement of the university’s logo.
Johnson County High School and the University of Texas both use the “longhorns” nickname.
The county school board recently voted to stop using the logo after receiving the university’s letter.
Long says the board first learned of the legal challenge in January and recently decided not to fight the request.
“We were advised that the cost could be hundreds of thousands of dollars,” he said.
Instead, Long says a Johnson County teacher has designed an alternative logo which the school board’s attorney will submit to the University of Texas legal counsel for review and feedback.
News Channel 11’s Blake Lipton spoke with Johnson County high school graduate Ryan Carroll on Friday, who said he agrees the University of Texas has a case.
“The problem being we aren’t using it to make money, we aren’t using in a way that would confuse us, a 600 person high school, with the University of Texas in Austin,” said Carroll.
He also said he is worried about the financial impact changing the logo would have on the school.
“All the uniforms and things are going to be changed and that’s just going to cost money and the money is just coming out of the system and this is just a school that really can’t afford that,” said Carroll. “If this continues it can be every school in the area and that’s just going to be a tax on the educational system that’s already taxed in an impoverished part of Northeast Tennessee.”
Others think there is bigger things to worry about these days.
“I hate that Johnson County already had it for so long for so many years before it’s been caught,” said Allan Foschino, a Johnson County resident, “but we should’ve researched better I think.”
“I guess the way I look at it,” said Joe Savery, another Johnson County resident, “if it wasn’t for Tennessee, there wouldn’t be a Texas, so we did our part to help them then they get petty, but no big deal.”
The University of Texas at Austin issued a statement to News Channel 11 Friday afternoon.
“The University of Texas at Austin, like many other universities around the country, works to protect its federally registered trademarks. The university reached out to the Johnson County school system back in January when we learned of a potential trademark violation. We have been collaborating with the district since then to come up with alternatives and come to a mutually workable solution that affords ample time to phase in a new logo.”Matt Pene, Media Relations Manager at The University of Texas at Austin
Johnson County High School will continue to use the “longhorns” nickname.