The University of Wisconsin has reached an agreement with Washburn University, a collegiate institution comprised of 7,200 students located in Topeka, Kan., after claiming the school had infringed upon UW’s “Motion W” logo.
According to Casey Nagy, executive assistant to Chancellor Biddy Martin, the settlement did not involve monetary compensation. Instead, Washburn agreed to tweak its logo so that it differs from that of UW.
“Because of the nature of a compromise, neither party is fully satisfied,” Nagy said.
But he added UW achieved its goal in preserving the “stand-alone” iconic quality of its logo, and Washburn maintains what he called a desirable mark.
“The decision to enter into the agreement was a business decision based on the high costs of litigating trademark disputes, and it not an acknowledgement of infringement on the Wisconsin mark,” Washburn officials said in a statement Tuesday.
UW initiated conversations roughly two years ago concerning the similarities between its logo and Washburn’s.
Washburn University agreed to modify its logo by adding a graphic detail to the symbol. Options include the university name or a representation of “Ichabod,” Washburn’s mascot.
Washburn director of university relations Dena Anson said with legal action there is “a lot of exchange back and forth,” and it’s not always an immediate situation.
“We have a graphic artist working on it right now,” Anson said. “Hopefully, it will be finished within a few days.”
Once the new logo is finalized, Washburn will undergo a transition period. The bookstore and athletic apparel stores will each be designated a specific amount of time to gradually “phase out” all merchandise containing the old logo.
“I don’t think there will be any problems because student bodies like fresh, new looks,” Anson said. “The addition of the new element will give a new image for Washburn. We embrace and welcome the change.”
Nagy described the purpose of the negotiations as an effort to protect the integrity of the “W” logo.
“Nothing really works in that linear fashion,” Nagy said. “Various times we expressed the view, Washburn expressed its view, and we would have a conversation.”
However, what led to the lawsuit was an overall lack of significant progress.
“Both sides thought that we had made some progress toward the issue of concern, and over time it seemed that we were not truly making that progress,” Nagy said.
Had UW abandoned the effort to protect its logo, Nagy said UW runs the risk of not being able to protect it in the future.
Nagy said the lawsuit, filed in February, was a last resort, calling it “the least desirable method next to doing nothing.”
“It’s expensive, it’s uncertain, and it’s not always the most useful method,” Nagy said.