USM to adopt new eagle head design


The University of Southern Mississippi launched a website last week that allows fans to join the conversation of which logo to choose: “Traditional Eye” or “Dynamic Eye?” Until Nov. 21 fans can go to to comment on which logo they prefer and why, so as to help decide which will become the official logo.

The logo change is in response to a 2011 mandate by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ordering USM to change its logo, which was adopted in 2003, because it too closely resembles that of the University of
Iowa Hawkeyes.

“The overall similarity in appearance of the marks on the goods, particularly in light of the use of identical color schemes, creates virtually identical commercial impressions,” said David Bucher, administrative trademark judge for the USPTO Trademark Trial and Appeal Board. The three-judge panel ruled 2-1 in favor of the Iowa Hawkeyes.

While Iowa celebrated, Southern Miss officials were sent back to the drawing board to replace what has been the university’s most popular and best-selling logo in history. Their solution to the problem was to modify the current logo rather than completely change it.
USM Athletic Director Bill McGillis told The Clarion-Ledger the alterations are an evolution, not a revolution.

“It’s a modification of the logo that maintains the character and integrity of the current eagle head logo, but moves it far enough away to be successfully trademarked, and avoid infringement on other institutions’ marks,” McGillis said.

For this modification USM sought the services of Hattiesburg-based RARE Design, the same firm that designed the 2003 logo. The firm has also worked with the Houston Texans, the New Orleans Pelicans and the Charlotte Hornets and is also responsible for the Memphis Grizzlies logo which included in its “Top 10 Sports Logos of All Time.”

RARE Design owner and USM alumnus Rodney Richardson designed USM’s two options for the new logo, retaining the 2003 eagle head’s brow, beak, style and, at least for the “Traditional Eye” design, eye.

“This new logo is a more powerful, sleek and aggressive eagle that maintains the strength and character of its predecessor,” Richardson said of his design on the logo website. “It’s in flight. Moving. Attacking. Just like Southern Miss.”

All that remains is for Southern Miss fans to decide which logo they want moving forward. A Student Printz survey found that over 60 percent of respondents prefer “Traditional Eye” over “Dynamic Eye,” while a larger Hattiesburg American poll found that, as of Sunday afternoon, 52 percent of 324 respondents favor “Traditional Eye.”

Fans can continue to comment on the proposed logos on until Friday. After this comment period, Southern Miss will work with RARE Design and the university’s licensing agent to select and finalize a logo. An outside law firm will then do a full vetting process of the new logo and commence registration with the USPTO. Completion of this entire process is expected to take six to 12 months.