John Hersey High School uses old NIU Huskie logo

By Kelly Bauer

It seems NIU’s fighting Huskie has moved from one school to another – the 1968 “fighting Huskie” logo is now being used unofficially by John Hersey High School.

The logo was commissioned by then-Athletic Director John Brigham in 1968 and was used at NIU until the ’80s. John Novak, assistant principal at John Hersey, said the earliest use of the fighting Huskie he can find at John Hersey is a 1981 yearbook photo where a student is wearing the logo on his sweatshirt. The fighting Huskie has been in use in one form or another since then at the high school, though it alternately featured a ‘JH’ or an ‘H’ and was tinted orange instead of black.

“We haven’t paid royalties [for the logo] since I’ve been here, and I’ve been here 23 years,” Novak said.

NIU associate athletics director Shelley Binegar said the logo is still trademarked to NIU. She said if someone uses a trademarked logo without permission, NIU can either allow them to continue using the image or can send a cease and desist order that prohibits further use of the logo. Binegar said that because John Hersey high school made changes to the logo, it was not easily confused with NIU logo. NIU did not previously know an altered form of the logo was in use by the high school.

“We’d probably let [the school] keep it, since it’s not really competing with us,” Binegar said.

NIU uses the firm Licensing Resource Group (LRG) to keep track of its trademarks and any unauthorized use of the university’s logos. Gene Wandling, executive vice president and chief financial officer of LRG’s Iowa branch, said some high schools will make agreements with universities so they can use trademarked images. These agreements may come with a fee, though the university can also allow free usage of its trademarked images.

“Typically, there are many situations where high schools have unknowingly or knowingly used the mascots of universities,” Wandling said. “Normally, any time a university comes out with a new logo or design, they would have certain rights to that design because they developed it.”

NIU and other universities can “enhance” their rights by applying for state or federal registration for their image, Wandling said. If an image is not trademarked, anyone can use it. Though the fighting Huskie logo is trademarked, John Hersey High School is not the first school to adapt the image to its needs.

“Several other schools have used variations of the NIU logo in the past,” said Brad Hoey, director of the Department of Communications and Marketing for NIU. “It’s a great mark and it resonates with a lot of fans.”