Saddleback’s “G” logo has a similar design to the Green Bay Packers. Brandon Chavez/ Lariat
District suggested abandoning decades old logo
On April 9, a Saddleback official revealed that there were legal talks within the college regarding the use of their athletics “G” logo during an online discussion forum. Oh, G!
According to Jennie McCue, the Director of Marketing and Communications, the shape and style of Saddleback’s logo is the issue in question, and since the college is planning to introduce a new mascot in May, there will be no intention of making any changes until then.
“Our district received a legal opinion suggesting that failing to change or drop the “G” could expose us to litigation because of the resemblance of the “G” to other professional or NCAA logos,” she said. “After we identify the new mascot, the workgroup will work with a design agency on a branding package.”
Saddleback’s “G” logo stands for Gauchos, the former mascot of the college. Although the face of the Gaucho was removed in 2019 for being too insensitive, the oval “G” has persisted and is still being used for the athletic department.
The oval design first originated from Wisconsin’s professional football team, the Green Bay Packers, who registered the design as a trademark and have been using it since 1961. Saddleback logo depiction incorporates a stroke and oval shape as seen in the Packers design and the letter “G” with the same font. Each logo is placed in the center and although the middle color is different, both strokes remain yellow.
All logos referencing the former mascot will be removed soon. Brandon Chavez / Lariat
So will Saddleback’s similar logo warrant a lawsuit? University of Southern California adjunct professor Michael Overing, an expert in trademark issues and copyright infringement, says “no.”
“The critical element of Trademark law is whether a consumer would be confused by the use of the mark,” he said. “I’ve been on the campus of Saddleback College several times and never once expected to see a Packers game there.”
Because there is no evidence that Saddleback’s logo is luring in Packers fans, Overing sees no basis for a legal case. Still, he acknowledges that there are similarities between the two logos and if there was to be a trial, their resemblance is not something that would be overlooked.
“You cannot have a trademark in a letter from the alphabet,” Overing said. “However, you can have a trademark in a stylized letter.”
Saddleback College’s modification of the Green Bay Packers’ logo was especially frustrating to look at for Lluvia Arras, the Creative Director of Nutribullet. She criticized the logo for drawing too much inspiration from the Packers and labeled its similar “G” shape a “complete ripoff.” Arras recommends changing the font to something that stands out more or altering the shape of the oval for a more rounded and unique shape.
“I would not approve of this,” she said. “Inspiration isn’t meant to be copied so blatantly.”
The oval “G” design is currently displayed at the University of Georgia and Grambling University who received permission from the Packers to use and trademark their version of the logo. Saddleback College has used its “G” logo for over a decade but was not authorized by the Green Bay Packers to adapt its design.
But Saddleback College isn’t the only school to replicate the Packers’ style without permission. Multiple high schools from across the United States have developed their unauthorized versions of the logo and have stayed out of legal trouble. Like Saddleback, the only difference was in the colors implemented.
Saddleback has not been approached by any of the trademark holders for their use of the oval “G” design. Till then, the logo will remain plastered throughout the Saddleback campus and on promotional flyers until the new mascot is selected.