NC State

NC State takes legal action on use of Wolfpack name

There’s only room for one “Wolfpack” in college sports.

That was N.C. State’s recent legal message to Keuka College, a Division III school in central New York which has been using the same nickname for the past two years.

Keuka, an NCAA member with about 1,000 students on campus, has been using “Wolfpack” – one word, no space – as the nickname for its athletic teams for the past two years.

The problem is the Raleigh university legally registered a federal trademark for that specific variation of Wolfpack in 1983. The school’s general counsel made a request last June to Keuka to stop using the name.

In October, Keuka made the decision to change its nickname to “Wolves.”

Part of our job is to protect and enforce our trademark.

Brad Bohlander, N.C. State’s chief communications officer

N.C. State, a Division I school in one of the top athletic conferences in the NCAA, has been criticized by both the national media and the president of Keuka College for picking on a smaller school with fewer financial resources.

But Brad Bohlander, N.C. State’s chief communications officer, said that’s not the case.

“It certainly isn’t our intention to cause any institution harm,” Bohlander said. “Part of our job is to protect and enforce our trademark.”

Jorge Díaz-Herrera, the president of Keuka, recently argued that no one would confuse the green-and-gold Division III Wolfpack for the red-and-white Division I Wolfpack. But as N.C. State did in 2011 with Loyola College, an NAIA school in New Orleans, it asked the school to stop using “Wolfpack” in order to protect its trademark in future cases.

Basically, if N.C. State doesn’t protest the use of the trademarked term by a tiny New York college, or another in New Orleans, it gives up the right to protect its legal right in future cases, Bohlander said.

Loyola followed the lead of the University of Nevada and changed its nickname to Wolf Pack (two words, one space, capital “P”).

A Keuka spokesperson did not return a phone message on Monday.

Díaz-Herrera wrote in a recent a letter to Keuka students that the school would be known as the Wolves after the 2015-16 athletic season is complete.

“No one could reasonably confuse Keuka College with N.C. State given the significant differences in our schools – from our size, to our division, to our colors,” Díaz-Herrera wrote on the school’s website. “While N.C. 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.”

According to N.C. State, royalties from licensed sales of trademarked merchandise generated $800,000 for student scholarships this year.

N.C. State was able to register the trademark for “Wolfpack” after it won the 1983 national title due to its uniqueness.

Giglio: 919-829-8938, @jwgiglio