Thursday March 11, 2010: Lake Mary vs. Chrysler

A few years ago, Lake Mary High School, in Lake Mary Florida needed a logo for its athletic teams.  And since they were the Lake Mary Rams, they apparently thought hmmm… how convenient!  There’s already a Ram logo.  It’s for the Dodge Ram truck.  And since it projects the perfect look of ferocity, we need look no further.  We’ll just use that one!  What could possibly go wrong?

Well, what could go wrong was the thing that made it so convenient:  There’s already a Ram logo.  And it belongs to Chrysler Corporation.  So the school was ordered to get rid of it: rip up the gym floor, change the uniforms, change the bus benches, and get themselves their own darned logo.

Lake Mary red, Dodge black

NPR even got into the act.  They did an interview with the school principal, Michael Kotkin on the situation.  You can read the transcript and listen to the interview here if you’re so inclined.  Well, this heavy-handed move by Chrysler sort of ticked off students and parents, some of whom even talked about never buying a Dodge Ram again, now that Chrysler had demanded exclusivity on their own logo.

So Chrysler backed off a bit, and decided that, well, maybe instead of being the defendant in a law suit,  perhaps Lake Mary High School could be a “business partner and supporter” of Chrysler, in exchange for limited use of the logo.  Problem solved.

Well, that’s real nice.  But what amazes me is that the school never thought this might happen.  We live in an area which should have learned its lesson long ago from Disney.  Many years ago, when I was on the radio in Melbourne, there was a day care center somewhere round these parts which innocently (and somewhat amateurishly) painted cartoon characters, including Disney characters, on its outside walls.  Of course, Disney parachuted in its platoon of attorneys and took care of that in short order.

I made some sort of remark on the air about it — something to the effect that I thought Disney could have been a little less heavy-handed and instead of sending in the storm troopers armed with subpoenas, perhaps they could have just had a nice quiet conversation with the day care center operators and gently explained why their renditions of Mickey and Donald on the walls would not be permitted.

A few hours later, I received a phone call, at home, from some concerned Disney attorneys in Los Angeles.  They had been tipped off by somebody in Central Florida about this guy on the radio who had made a comment about them.  They wanted to know exactly what I had said, what time I said it, and a few other details I don’t now remember.  Then they politely but firmly explained their position on copyright law, and said goodbye.   So I learned my lesson.  And I felt pretty Goofy® about the whole thing.

And since Disney is so pervasive ’round these here parts, I’m just sort of surprised that Lake Mary High School wasn’t a tad more sensitive to the jealousy with which Big Corporations guard their logos.  But now, since it’s kiss-and-make up time, all is well once again.

Today’s Curiosities

  • A must-see:  A “lost” (and frightening!) episode of Star Trek…

…have a great day.  Live long and perspire.  Uh… prosper.  — Steve


3 thoughts on “Thursday March 11, 2010: Lake Mary vs. Chrysler

  1. Lake Mary vs. Chrysler:
    Aren’t we bailing them out?? Listened to the interview.
    I say to you, “Goofy®”.
    ‘Nuff said…

  2. Bailing out Chrysler? Sure – like the Seminole County school district is totally self-supporting…come on, we’ve bailed out school districts everywhere. Same money as Chrysler – it comes from us and goes to them. As for Disney, they recently acquired thousands of comic book characters when they bought Marvel Entertainment last year. They will be guarding any misuse as judiciously as Goofy©.
    That being said, it doesn’t give anyone the freedom to use a copyrighted symbol without permission. (For example if you want to record a NL baseball game you’re required to have expressed written permission from the Commissioner – and you better not charge anyone to watch it!)

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