Students can always find a way to piss off university administration. It’s part of their raison d’etre. If they aren’t getting drunk and turning over cars, they’re burning couches or peeing in their neighbors’ shrubs. But hey, we were all kids once, right?
The students’ latest scheme to irritate administrators is — well — it’s downright diabolical. Students at my school apparently are making unauthorized use of the university logo on their social media sites. How dare they share their school affiliation with their online community
I’d love to tell you this comes from The Onion, but it comes from the legal department. And it’s scary, because I’ve used that logo a few times myself. When Kent State does something great, I write about it and use the logo. When the university does something worth criticizing, I also use the logo.
Let’s face it, without a visual component, no one clicks your Facebook link. Next thing you know, you’re irrelevant.
Since I write this blog for educational purposes, I’ve always considered use of these visuals to be covered by the doctrine of fair use. And for 7 years, no one’s said a word about it, so I figured they were cool with it.
Here’s the email that went to our student body today. I doubt anyone from the PR department was consulted about potential public reaction. Hell, maybe there won’t be any reaction. But I do hope our alumni didn’t get the same email. A lot of loyal KSU grads use the logo on their social media sites, and some of those folks even send us money.
To: Undisclosed recipients:
Subject: Unauthorized Use of Kent State University Trademarks
Kent State students,
Visual communications through social media accounts and Web pages that incorporate Kent State University’s logos, trademarks and service marks, like the example provided below, reflect not only on the university’s style and character, but also on the traditions, strengths and values of the entire university community. For this reason, the university takes the unauthorized use of its trademarks and service marks very seriously.
It has come to our attention that certain trademarks and service marks owned and federally registered by the university are being used without authorization in connection with social media accounts on Twitter and other sites. Use of the university’s marks without the written permission of the university’s Office of General Counsel is prohibited.
If you are maintaining a social media account that incorporates a Kent State trademark or service mark without authorization, we ask that you immediately cease use of the mark. We further ask all students to refrain from any future unauthorized use of university trademarks or service marks on any social media site. Continued unauthorized use of the university’s trademarks and service marks may result in disciplinary and/or legal action.
The use of the university’s marks requires written permission from the Office of General Counsel. To pursue permission, or for further information, contact the Office of General Counsel at (email redacted).
Thank you for your attention to this matter.
Office of General Counsel
Kent State University