Jump to content

Student sues NYU for logo use


Waffles

Recommended Posts

amd_nyu_hat_logo.jpg

A freelance artist is suing New York University, saying her alma mater's famous bobcat mascot is really just a copycat.

Ariel Fleurimond says the mascot NYU unveiled in 2008 and began plastering on apparel, memorabilia, posters, its Web site and even the gymnasium floor is a design she created at the request of the associate athletic director.

"I definitely feel like I was taken advantage of," Fleurimond, 22, told the Daily News.

In a copyright infringement suit filed in Long Island Federal Court, she is seeking unspecified monetary damages from NYU.

Lawyer Mona Conway said her client may be entitled to millions in royalties.

Fleurimond says she was a psychology major working as an equipment room clerk in the athletic department in 2007 when associate director Noah Lefebre asked her to create a feline mascot.

Starting with a generic-looking cat, Fleurimond scratched out numerous drawings, refining the character until she finally came up with a cartoon cougar she called "Orion."

She submitted the character and waited for approval.

Last summer, she says she got the shock of her life when she walked into the gym and spotted her cougar painted on the hardwood floor.

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/money/2009/09/15/2009-09-15_nyu_bobcat_logo_is_my_work_she_hisses_in_copyright_lawsuit.html#ixzz0RBOiLaSH

Let this be a lesson to all the aspiring designers here...get it in writing!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A question and a comment:

1. NYU's teams are called the Violets. What, if anything, is the significance of the bobcat mascot?

2. Not that it would excuse any theft of the logo by NYU, but it's not a very good logo. The facial features all seem distorted somehow.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's actually a bobcat. They started using it in the 1980s as a visual substitute for the hard-to-define (and insufficiently tuff) "violets".

Two immediate reactions:

1. The article doesn't mention what she claims the athletic department's associate director promised her when he asked her to create a mascot logo. Unless they reneged on a promise of payment, what's her beef?

2. Why does it seem all the lawsuits are over ugly logos?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's actually a bobcat. They started using it in the 1980s as a visual substitute for the hard-to-define (and insufficiently tuff) "violets".

Two immediate reactions:

1. The article doesn't mention what she claims the athletic department's associate director promised her when he asked her to create a mascot logo. Unless they reneged on a promise of payment, what's her beef?

2. Why does it seem all the lawsuits are over ugly logos?

True, the petals of a violet flower would not make a particularly testosterone-rich logo. On the other hand, neither does this bobcat, while the flower has the added advantage of actually existing in New York. Also, don't judge from the bizarrely rendered stitching on the cap: this bobcat logo is a perfectly serviceable college mascot logo. The linework is decent, and the form and expression absolutely in line with the mainstream of college mascot logos.

Anyway, Gotham's questions kind of answer themselves. This kind of situation only arises when a team decides to take advantage of in-house amateurs for work that ought to be done either by professionals or by students pursuing art or design degrees. No process led by a person who would make the decision to ask a non-design student part-timer to do the work could possibly produce a truly great logo. If NYU's athletic department were capable of running a good logo design process, then NYU's athletic department would never have asked an amateur to do the work for free in the first place.

It's shocking that a staffer at NYU would try to do such important work on the cheap by asking the nearest amateur with a pencil to draft the logo. It's shameful that anyone employed by a university would try to save a few bucks by exploiting the naivete of a student. I know that on the research side, this sort of screw-the-student mentality goes on all the time, but still, it is a mindset that is completely at odds with a college's mission. Boo on NYU, and if this student really did draft that logo, then I hope her suit prevails even if she had a work-for-hire position. (Which would be kind of odd, actually: how many part-time clerks do you know whose work agreements include a work-for-hire IP provision?)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The top logo there kinda looks like the Indianapolis Indians mated with the unused Nordiques logo. And not in the good way.

True. And the bottom one has come to remind me more and more of the Saint Louis University Billiken.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

How could she collect Millions in royalties? I don't know many logo design contracts that have a percentage of sales attached to them, especially at that level. I think some Minor League baseball might work that way but that's because the logo is such a money maker for those teams. For Pro teams and colleges it doesn't really matter what you put on there, people by them because there is built in support in the form of long term fans or alumni/students.

Sorry but I think I'm on the universities side on this one. Seems like she was duped into doing a logo for or for little money, but she should have gotten some kind of contract. And if you do a logo as an in-house designer, guess what? You aren't getting paid any more nor should you. The only reason you have a job as a in-house designer is so the company could save some money on freelance work by having full time staff. You don't get paid extra any more just like people developing medicine at Lilly or computer chips at intel.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

How could she collect Millions in royalties? I don't know many logo design contracts that have a percentage of sales attached to them, especially at that level. I think some Minor League baseball might work that way but that's because the logo is such a money maker for those teams. For Pro teams and colleges it doesn't really matter what you put on there, people by them because there is built in support in the form of long term fans or alumni/students.

Since this is the first time most of us have ever even seen this logo, it's doubtful NYU has made millions of dollars off this logo to begin with. Even if she was somehow awarded royalties, I think the million dollar range is waaay off the mark. I'd say hundreds is a more realistic figure.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Exactly...and like I said...its extremely rare that you'd even have a royalties clause worked into a standard design contract. Her lawyer really should know that. Its not hard...you can find these things out by buying the Pricing and Ethical Guidelines book for about $20. Maybe I should email that to her...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Her logo is definitely nothing to get hung up over. It really isn't attractive. Still, the circumstances of this case confuse me. She was asked to sketch out a logo, but what was she promised in return? If she was so hung up on receiving money in exchange for her work, why wouldn't she hammer out the details first? Students at my high school were asked to design logos for various things; but they were never told to expect money, nor did they ever decide they were entitled to it. A silly example, I know, but unless money came up when she first designed and submitted the logo, it seems odd to sue.

Regardless, since both their old & new logo offend my eyes, I stay they stop trying to make Bobcats relate to violets & design something completely revamped. Say... an angry, muscle-y Violet chewing on nails? I don't care what any of you say, a flower can be tough ;)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have been waiting for a good topic to ask this question in, but didn't want to start a new one. Off topic, kind of. What are the laws around legally binding contracts? Say, what is the difference between agreeing to a deal involving money exchanged for a design with a handshake, a signed contract, through email, a phone call, a text message, Twitter, Facebook, Skype, AIM, Yahoo, etc...? Anything set in stone?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have been waiting for a good topic to ask this question in, but didn't want to start a new one. Off topic, kind of. What are the laws around legally binding contracts? Say, what is the difference between agreeing to a deal involving money exchanged for a design with a handshake, a signed contract, through email, a phone call, a text message, Twitter, Facebook, Skype, AIM, Yahoo, etc...? Anything set in stone?

Unless the statute of frauds applies (which, for a case not involving real estate, would mean a contract that could not be completed in less than one year -- example, a two year employment contract), a legally binding contract can be created in any manner. You and I could have a telephone conversation and enter into a binding oral contract. ("eRay, I'll pay you $500 for a new logo for my company." "Okay." -- Done).

The problem comes about when you attempt to enforce an oral contract. To prevail, you need to convince a judge or jury that it is more likely than not (i.e., by a "preponderance of the evidence") that your version of the conversation is correct. That is not always easy to do unless there are other circumstances to corroborate your version. The legal version of "the tie goes to the runner" is that the tie goes to the defendant.

It is always much easier to prevail if you have something in writing signed or adopted by the other party. That can take just about any form. For example, if you make a proposal by e-mail and the other party replies, "I agree", you having a binding agreement, assuming all the essential terms have been included.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I just love that her lawyer thinks she may be entitled to 'millions of dollars in royalties'. Leave it to a lawyer. She does realize that NYU is like a D-IV school, right? It's not like she designed the Texas Longhorn silhouette. Hilarious, I think this poor girl is in for a shock when the school offers her $50 and a t-shirt.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have been waiting for a good topic to ask this question in, but didn't want to start a new one. Off topic, kind of. What are the laws around legally binding contracts? Say, what is the difference between agreeing to a deal involving money exchanged for a design with a handshake, a signed contract, through email, a phone call, a text message, Twitter, Facebook, Skype, AIM, Yahoo, etc...? Anything set in stone?

Unless the statute of frauds applies (which, for a case not involving real estate, would mean a contract that could not be completed in less than one year -- example, a two year employment contract), a legally binding contract can be created in any manner. You and I could have a telephone conversation and enter into a binding oral contract. ("eRay, I'll pay you $500 for a new logo for my company." "Okay." -- Done).

The problem comes about when you attempt to enforce an oral contract. To prevail, you need to convince a judge or jury that it is more likely than not (i.e., by a "preponderance of the evidence") that your version of the conversation is correct. That is not always easy to do unless there are other circumstances to corroborate your version. The legal version of "the tie goes to the runner" is that the tie goes to the defendant.

It is always much easier to prevail if you have something in writing signed or adopted by the other party. That can take just about any form. For example, if you make a proposal by e-mail and the other party replies, "I agree", you having a binding agreement, assuming all the essential terms have been included.

So far as I can tell, she's not claiming that there was ever an oral contract to enforce.

Nowhere in the article does it say she was promised payment for designing the logo, just that she was asked to create a logo, submitted her design, and now after it is in use she wants payment.

Seems like a legal non-starter from this layman's perspective.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.