College football bowl week is often referred to as the "most wonderful time of the year!" I couldn’t agree more with this statement. I love college football, which includes memories of crisp autumn days, unwavering traditions and college bands. Who would think in the middle of all of this is an intellectual property story?
Let me introduce you to John Antonio and Helen Weaver of Henderson Advertising. In 1970, they were hired to create a new logo for the Clemson Tigers. After reviewing several logos from various teams with a tiger mascot, he noticed that all were some form of the tiger. John decided to do something different. He requested the mold of a Bengal Tiger from the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. The mold was sent to Henderson who then created a picture, tilting the image to the right. So what’s the big deal? We see pitchforks and other assortments of logos on helmets. In 1970, it was unusual to have any logo on a college helmet. However, when Antonio showed the Clemson helmet sporting the paw print, the Bengal Tiger Paw Print became the new logo.
Time moves along and the Clemson Tigers football team starts winning. As with all things successful, several copies of the now famous paw print emerge. However, Clemson hadn’t licensed it for anyone else to use. During the 1970s and 1980s, it wasn’t common for universities to copyright anything. As we know now and as Clemson started realizing at the time, the ability to control usage as well as the ability to recognize profits based off of the sale of Tiger Paw merchandise, became increasingly important. So, in June of 1984, Clemson received their trademark registration from the federal government (USPTO).
I like this collision of IP and college football. Why, you may ask? It is the perfect example of showing how intellectual property is everywhere. So many companies don’t realize that they have IP or even the potential value it may represent. The Clemson Tiger Paw print ties it all together.
So when Clemson plays Ohio State tonight in the Orange Bowl (at 6:30, don't miss it!), take note of the Tiger Paw print and relish in the mash-up of intellectual property and the most wonderful time of the year!
(You'll note that I don't have an image of the Tiger Paw Print. Unfortunately, I did not have enough time to receive permission before tonight's game!)