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Lipscomb relinquishes their ‘LU’ logo
The interlocking L and U logo was the center of a legal issue between Liberty University and Lipscomb University when Lipscomb started using the “LU” combination in their logo in 2011.
“The issue was not only about the closeness of the logo, but about the use of the letters ‘LU’ in connection with higher education,” David Corry, Liberty’s general counsel, said. “Liberty University has the exclusive trademark on that.”
Lipscomb, a private Christian university located in Nashville, Tenn., designed the new logo when they came across a need for a shorter graphic, according to Deby Samuels, vice president of Lipscomb’s Communications and Marketing. They conducted a trademark search, which came back clear at the time.
Liberty later discovered Lipscomb’s similar logo in December 2012, Corry said. Upon noticing the improper use of the “LU,” Liberty sent a letter to Lipscomb, which began a cordial discussion.
“We explained that we needed to police the unauthorized use of our trademarks or risk losing trademark protection,” Corry said. “We offered a free license for Lipscomb to use ‘LU’ in certain ways and with certain colors and negotiated the terms of that over several months.”
According to Ronald Kennedy, the senior vice president of marketing, the interlocking L and U logo officially became the trademark of Liberty March 1, 2013.
“There were multiple university marks that were refined to modernize the brand without straying too far from the brand equity the university had already established with their logos,” Kennedy said.
President Jerry Falwell, Jr. stated in his brand update announcement on Liberty’s website why the enhanced “LU” design is important to distinguishing Liberty from other schools.
“Because other universities could also claim ‘LU’ as their initials, we opted to emphasize our name over our monogram,” Falwell said. “Now, in light of our explosive growth and expanding national prominence, we feel it is time to adopt the custom of other major universities in allowing our initials to speak for themselves … When people hear of ‘LU,’ they will think of Liberty University.”
Samuels explained that if the situation was based solely around the use of the logo design, it would have been adjusted much more quickly.
According to Corry, Lipscomb decided to discontinue any further use of the logo “LU,” which was an acceptable resolution for Liberty.
“Where we can, we have eliminated it immediately, such as on websites and other quick-to-fix locations,” Samuels said. “On things such as wearables, Liberty has agreed to let us sell through on those.”
Although Lipscomb cannot present their ideas for their new logo design yet, they do know that it will not be based on the letters “LU,” according to Samuels.
“We are simply using our athletic ‘Lipscomb’ logo at the moment,” Samuels said. “The ‘LU’ format was not the majority player in our athletic identity graphics.”
According to Samuels, Lipscomb’s brand has been “Lipscomb” for more than 122 years, and they have barely ever referred to themselves as “LU.”
“Lipscomb University is bigger than a logo and is a name and an institution that is unique,” Samuels said.
However, according to Samuels, several of their supporters are disappointed and do not understand how the letters can be trademarked.
“But our Christian mission here is much bigger, much richer and much more exciting than spending time trying to figure this one out,” Samuels said. “We move on