Keuka College backs away from 'Wolfpack'
KEUKA PARK--Keuka College will drop the Wolfpack name from its athletic teams following pressure from North Carolina State University (NC State). According to a press release from Senior Director of Marketing and Communications Pete Bekisz at Keuka College, the change comes after the threat of legal action from NC State, who currently holds the rights to the Wolfpack name. At the start of next season, Keuka College's teams will be renamed as the Wolves. The college's mascot will remain the same, as will the wolf head image and much of the Keuka College athletics logos.
"NC State's use of Wolfpack (one word) dates back to 1921, and the university has maintained a federal registration for the mark since 1983," said NC State spokesperson Mick Kulikowski. "NC State is the only university that uses the unique mark, Wolfpack, for its collegiate athletic teams."
Kulikowski said NC State first contacted Keuka College in April once they had learned the college was using the Wolfpack moniker. Keuka College claims the change in their athletics nickname to Wolfpack came about as a result of a recommendation after members of the student body came together as a group to clean up after area flooding in May of 2014. However, NC State sent Keuka College an official request to stop using that nickname, claiming an infringement upon NC State's trademark.
"Like many universities, NC State works to preserve the value of its trademarks, avoid consumer misinformation, and protect trademarks from possible infringement," Kulikowski said. "When we learned about the new use of Wolfpack by Keuka College, NC State staff reached out to explain the situation and ask the college to stop using the trademark."
However, Keuka College claims many athletics teams co-exist with the same trademarked nickname, which is legally possible because the litmus test is whether there is a likelihood of consumer confusion between the two marks.
"No one could reasonably confuse Keuka College with NC State given the significant differences in our schools -- from our size, to our division, to our colors," said Dr. Jorge L. Díaz-Herrera, president of Keuka College. "While NC State may be willing to spend their monetary resources on legal challenges at a time when the very value of higher education is being called into question, Keuka College is not."