By Matt Harron
KU and Kansas University may be 1,100 miles apart from one another, but similarities in their school logo created confusion between both universities.
In 2003, KU designed a new logo in a Trajan font, which is seen on KU apparel and merchandise. Two years later, Kansas University also changed their logo to a Trajan font almost identical to Kutztown University’s.
Here is what sparked the confusion: Kansas University has owned the federal trademark of the letters since 1979. However, KU owns the trademark to their logo, but not the trademark of the letters themselves. Kansas University is technically the University of Kansas, but they cannot alter their abbreviation because University of Kentucky owns the federal trademark to “U.K”.
Since 2006, both universities have worked in harmony using the similar logos; nonetheless, this took additional legal discussion to ensure clarity. Neither university had to change logos, but KU cannot let the “KU” letters stand-alone. If used, “KU” must be written out as “Kutztown University,” or surrounded by familiar KU stamps, like the Golden Bear or the clock tower.
Kansas University was not aware of the similarities in logos until Journal World, a local publication in Kansas, published an article revealing the similarities. While KU spent a total of $20,000 on their improved logo, Kansas spent more than triple the amount at a total of $88,900.
Merchandise sales were the main focus for Kansas University. Kansas profits an annual $1 million and are constantly ensuring trademark rights are not infringed upon. KU was not as concerned because their focus are students from Pennsylvania; therefore, their logo wouldn’t reach an audience as big as Kansas has.
Director of relations at KU, Matt Santos, has been upholding these standards since the agreement between Kansas and KU. “It has never come up as an issue, we have both gone on harmoniously, doing our best to try to follow their request to how and where it can be used,” said Santos.
Santos’ goal for this year is to update KU’s logo page to ensure that on-campus organizations know when and where the logo can be used.