Should fee apply to use of logos?Is Cornelius getting shortchanged?
By: Brooke Cersosimo, The Daily Republic
Is Cornelius getting shortchanged?
For years, universities and colleges all over the country have earned revenue for trademarked team names and mascots. But the Mitchell School District does not.
The Collegiate Licensing Corp. reported total revenue of $4.6 billion from July 1, 2011, to June 30, 2012. That revenue came from the sale of trademarked goods by its customers, primarily college athletic departments.
Several athletic programs at Mitchell’s Dakota Wesleyan University earn revenue for sports apparel. The Tiger basketball programs have agreements with Sun Gold Trophies Inc., in which some revenue from goods sold in the store goes back into the programs, said Deryk Thomsen, of Sun Gold.
Below the collegiate level, not many athletic programs license their name or mascot.
The Mitchell School District does not earn revenue for goods that bear the Kernels name or the image of Cornelius, the district’s smiling corn cob mascot.
But the school district did register the two under South Dakota’s secretary of state for copyright purposes in 1998.
“The main reason for this is because some time ago our mascot was getting misused,” said Activities Director Geoff Gross, referring to student-made T-shirts. “There were instances where Cornelius was used in inappropriate manners.”
The school district’s athletic teams, clubs and organizations, along with the booster club, have all ordered goods through printing stores in Mitchell, including Sun Gold Trophies, Harve’s Sports Shop and GF Advertising Services.
“What we do is through the administration asking for a particular type of good,” Sun Gold’s Jerry Thomsen said.
In these cases, there are no licensing fees involved. Schools or organizations order goods from a business and then conduct fundraising by marking up the goods and offering them for sale to school district patrons.
Two of the stores sell Kernel apparel in-store, and the school district does not earn revenue for that.
For example, Sun Gold sells Mitchell basketball apparel and earns anywhere from $1 to $4 on each sale.
“We did call the coaches for their consent,” Deryk Thomsen said. “We don’t really do anything without their authorization.”
Harve’s Sports Shop also sells Mitchell Kernels apparel within the store. Jim Johnston, owner of Harve’s, declined an interview on the subject.
Mitchell Superintendent Joe Graves said collecting licensing fees is something he will consider.
“I think it’s something that we should investigate,” he said. “If they are selling apparel with our name or mascot, I do think we should get a share so we can use the dollars for our extracurricular programs.”
Jerry Thomsen said he doesn’t see licensing fees as “a bad thing,” but he doesn’t think fees should apply to locally sold goods.
“If the money is going outside the community, then it’s well worth considering,” he said. “But when you are dealing with a local business, the money is staying right here in Mitchell.”
“If the district chooses to go through with it,” he added, “it needs to be careful and have a level playing field with all of the people in the screen printing and embroidery business. As long as everybody was able to sign up for it, I’m OK with that.”
Like its lack of licensing agreements with local businesses, the school district also lacks revenue-producing agreements with national chains, such as Walmart and Walgreens. Currently, national chains in Mitchell do not sell Mitchell Kernel apparel.
Scott VanDerMillen, the school district’s activities director from 1999 to 2009, was in the process of setting up agreements with the two national chains during his term, but the agreement was never completed.
“We are going to explore our options,” Graves said. “If we pursue the issue, we’d probably pursue the same sort of agreement that VanDerMillen did.”