CATAWISSA RR - Southern Columbia Area School District will have to slowly phase out the use of its current tiger head logo, which the University of Missouri says too closely resembles its copyrighted logo.

The university sent a cease-and-desist letter to the district in November, but has agreed to allow Southern to take action over time.

The tiger is on team uniforms, walls, the marque, the floor of the new gymnasium and several booster and sports-affiliated websites, and it would cost the district thousands of dollars to replace it all in one shot, said Superintendent Paul Caputo.

Instead, "Mizzou" officials agreed to the transition plan. While the district replaces items over the years, a newly redesigned logo will replace the old one, Caputo said. The transition must be completed by Jan. 1, 2019.

"We appreciate the stance they took. They expected us to take corrective action, and we did," he said. "They are protecting their property, and they were more than helpful and cooperative in helping us transition."

Missouri officials said the district was using a logo designed, owned and commercialized by the university.

It's not clear when the logo was adopted by Southern or where it was found, but Caputo said someone started using it along the line - maybe a student, an employee or a booster club member - and it caught on from there.

The Missouri logo can be found by searching "Tiger logo" on Google Images.

Southern's newly revised logo, designed by a high-school student, still resembles the old tiger, but has a different shape to its neck and longer whiskers.

Distinctive

The Nov. 12 letter from Mizzou's attorney James D. Aronowitz indicated the university has developed a valuable ownership interest in the logo and has promoted it through extensive marketing, licensing programs associated with the university and its athletic teams.

"By using the mark, the university has been able to create an identity in which consumers recognize the quality of the goods and services emanating from the university," the letter reads.

The district's use of the logo may cause consumers to erroneously believe the university has authorized the school to use it. Also, it will dilute the logo's distinctiveness the public associates with the university, Aronowitz wrote.

Even if Southern did not intend to create any issues by using the logo, "it is important for you to understand the concerns we have regarding your use of the mark," he said.

In a letter dated Dec. 6, district solicitor Rich Roberts references a recent telephone conference in which it was agreed that Southern could transition to a new logo. SCA's Tiger Wear 2013, which was offered for sale by the football boosters, not the district, will no longer be sold, and that gear in the future will have the new logo.

Caputo said the district may even copyright its new logo moving forward.