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UO weighs options after Oregonians for Immigration Reform refuses to stop using O

"Our 'O,' the university claims, too closely resembles the 'O' it uses as its own logo," Cynthia Kendoll, OFIR's president, said in the statement. "This is ridiculous The 'O' in our logo and in the university's are in different fonts. Our 'O,' unlike the university's, features a graphic inside."

EUGENE, Ore. - The University of Oregon is considering its next steps after Oregonians for Immigration Reform called claims that its logo infringed on the University's logo "ridiculous."

Attorneys for the University wrote to OFIR earlier this month, asking that the group stop using a green O.

Part of the letter from the University reads, "The University of Oregon neither supports your message, desires to be associated with your message, nor wishes to assist in your fundraising efforts."

The letter suggested the University will take legal action against the organization.

The May 18 deadline has come and gone.

On May 17, OFIR issued a statement critical of the University's request.

"Our 'O,' the university claims, too closely resembles the 'O' it uses as its own logo," Cynthia Kendoll, OFIR's president, said in the statement. "This is ridiculous The 'O' in our logo and in the university's are in different fonts. Our 'O,' unlike the university's, features a graphic inside.

"How, on the mere basis of a capital 'O' in both our logos, could any reasonable person confuse OFIR with the University of Oregon -- or believe the institutions are affiliated?" Kendoll added. "Does the university really believe it has the right to trademark a letter of the alphabet?"

Members of the University of Oregon student group MEChA, a group for Chicanx students, alerted the University to the similarities between the University of Oregon "O" logo, and the OFIR "O" logo.

Carina Garcia, a University of Oregon student and member of MEChA, says students wrote a letter to the University, asking them to urge OFIR to stop using the logo.

OFIR has been identified as an anti-immigrant group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

OFIR communications director Jim Ludwick took issue with that label.

"In its cease-and-desist letter to OFIR, the university mentioned as one reason for its action the Southern Poverty Law Center's recent classification of OFIR as a 'hate' group," Ludwick said in a statement. "But if the university had conducted even a cursory examination of the SPLC's tactics, it would have found the outfit exists mainly to smear patriotic Americans as 'racists' and 'xenophobes.' Even mainstream liberals agree the SPLC inhabits the left-wing fringe. If the university's lawsuit threat was truly about trademark infringement, why would its letter to us have mentioned the SPLC?"

Ludwick noted the group is gathering signatures in an attempt to overturn the state's sanctuary policies for illegal immigrants.

The Oregon legislature passed the law in 1987 with bi-partisan support by a vote of 29 to 1 in the state Senate and 58 to 1 in the state House.

"Given our record of success fighting illegal immigration in the political realm," Ludwick said in the statement, "might the real reason for the university's action be to distract OFIR's attention from its ballot-measure campaign -- and thereby to chill a volunteer group's effort to influence public policy via direct democracy? If so, it won't work. We'll continue our fight against illegal immigration. We'll get our measure onto the ballot. And we'll continue to use the logo we use today."

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