Logo Loopholes: How high schools use professional and collegiate logos

Take a second to think about old logos your high school may have used. Often times, high schools will utilize professional and collegiate logo designs and alter them. Did your high school do this?

Posted: May 15, 2018 8:08 PM
Updated: May 16, 2018 4:00 AM

BOURBONNAIS, Ill. (WLFI) — Eagles, Bulldogs, Wildcats and Tigers are some of the most popular high school mascots in the country.

When it comes to school logos and brands, one would think there are only so many ways to design it.

Take a second to think about old logos your high school may have used. Often times, high schools will utilize professional and collegiate logo designs and alter them. Did your high school do this?

Schools will modify a few things, change the colors, flip it backwards, etc. These modifications can be confusing.

Bradley-Bourbonnais Boilermakers
Ninety miles northwest of Purdue University is another school of Boilermakers. The colors aren't black and gold, but rather red and white.


"If you ask anyone who the Boilermakers are, you are either going get Purdue or Bradley-Bourbonnais," said Superintendent Dr. Scott Wakeley.

Bradley-Bourbonnais is a high school of 2,100 in the southern Chicago suburbs. They call themselves the Boilermakers, use the saying 'Boiler Up,' and even use a modified version of the mascot.


An old BBCHS logo compared to the old Purdue Pete (owned by Purdue University Bookstore)

"Bruno the Boilermaker is our Purdue Pete," Wakeley said. "Legend has it, Bruno the Boilermaker came from a coach in the late 30s, early 40s and was a Purdue grad. Bradley High School did not have a mascot at the time so, we made decision. We were going to be the Boilermakers."

However, as the years went on, it came time redo Bruno. It wasn't because they were asked to. It wasn't because of Purdue. They simply wanted a local feel.

"We started to look at what Bruno signifies in our community that is hard-working and rolls up their sleeves," said Wakeley.

Something the school focused on in the re-brand was making Bruno the Boilermaker look more lifelike.


The new Bruno the Boilermaker design

"Our athletic department wanted to make sure he had leg day," Wakeley said joking about Purdue Pete's large upper-body and small legs.

High schools in our area do it too
The Seeger Memorial Junior-Senior High School Patriots logo is the New England Patriots logo, just flipped backward.

Seeger Memorial Junior -Senior High School logo compared to New England Patriots logo

The North White Middle-High School logo looks awfully similar to the Minnesota Vikings.

North White High School logo compared to the Minnesota Vikings logo

You may remember back in 2013, McCutcheon High School changed its logo after they got a letter from the University of Texas.

"They were making the point that our longhorn-style maverick logo looked confusingly similar to the University of Texas symbol," said Superintendent Scott Hanback in a previous interview with News 18. 


2013 McCutcheon logo next to University of Texas logo

Old McCutcheon logo next to Chicago Bulls logo.

There are plenty of others in our area. Here are a few we found:

An old Clinton Central Bulldogs logo compared to Butler University.

An old Benton Central logo compared to the Buffalo Bills

Kokomo Wildkat logo compared to the University of Kentucky

An old Harrison Raiders logo compared to the Oakland Raiders

*Many of these are old logos. School's have adopted new designs during re-brands. 

What's at stake?

"The way that you infringe a trademark is by confusing the consumer," said Cedric D'Hue, a patent and trademark specialist. 

He said the violation occurs if they are selling a good or service utilizing the logo. As for the schools...

"They could be using that mark with the sale of service of education," said D'Hue. 

Schools steal logos because there is little risk involved, unless the trademark owner calls them out. 

"It is just going to be when somebody gets confused and there is a suit brought against them," said D'Hue.

So could a lawsuit actually be filed against the schools utilizing the logos?

"If you look at the similarity of those marks, and they're very similar and the goods and services are similar, especially if the consumer is confused, most definitely," said D'Hue. 

So the schools options?

"Either get permission or make a change," said D'Hue.

So about that red train?
Bradley-Bourbonnais made a change.

"We don't have our logo to make money," said Wakeley. "We have our logo to be a part of this community and for kids to be proud to wear their school colors."

In addition to the revised Bruno, they now utilize two new logos. One is a "double-B" and the other is a hammer. But what about the red train?


Double-B and Hammer Logo Bradley-Bourbonnais now uses (hammer logo derived from the Berlin Thunder_

"We put a stop to that. It was a blatant knock-off of Purdue's train. But you tell Purdue when they say 'you can't use our logo' we're not!"


BBCHS wrestling logo compared to old Purdue train logo

"We are the Boilermakers but we don't have to do everything that Purdue does. It is their trademark it is their logo and we want to respect that."

While Purdue does utilize the old Purdue Pete logo, it actually belongs to the University Bookstore. Owner Tom Frye told News 18 he's not interested in fighting a high school or collecting any royalties.

Bradley-Bourbonnais isn't the only school to use the old Purdue Pete. News 18 found three others while searching including Kewanee High School Boilermakers.

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