Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets fight to keep “buzz”

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    By BEN WESTERBY

    U.S. District Judge Tena Campbell dismissed a case May 22 filed by the Salt Lake Buzz against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. Georgia Tech’s infringement suit is still pending in Georgia.

    Tammy Tuley, the director of client communications at Georgia Tech, said Georgia Tech owns the word “Buzz” as related to sports.

    The name of the Yellow Jackets’ mascot is Buzz. The name of the Salt Lake Buzz’s mascot is Buzzy. Both mascots are blue and gold, and both are used to sell merchandise.

    Tuley said Georgia Tech is concerned with the word “Buzz” and also with the mascot in general. Tuley said they have just recently realized the similarities between the mascots, too.

    Brad Burrup, manager of the South Towne Mall Fanzz, said he doesn’t think a new Buzz logo would effect his store’s revenues much.

    “I think the fans will embrace it,” Burrup said.

    Tuley also said the money raised from the sale of Yellow Jacket merchandise is used to provide scholarships for students.

    “We want to protect the integrity of the trademark,” Tuley said.

    Paul Hirst, the Senior Account Executive for the Salt Lake Buzz, said he thinks if they had to use another logo they would be all right.

    The Salt Lake Buzz management and Georgia Tech administration were in negotiations until last March when the Salt Lake Buzz filed for a declaratory judgement.

    A declaratory judgement would have meant the word “Buzz” wouldn’t be trademark infringement.

    Tuley said she isn’t sure why the Buzz pulled out of negotiations.

    “We thought we’d reached an agreement,” Tuley said. “Our goal was never to go to court.”

    Tuley said if the Salt Lake Buzz had done a proper trademark search they would have found that the word “Buzz” was trademarked.

    Tuley said Salt Lake Buzz merchandise has been sold in Atlanta. She said it is hard to measure the loss of sales Georgia Tech has suffered.

    Tuley talked to an owner of an athletic apparel store in Georgia selling Salt Lake Buzz merchandise, who said he thought the merchandise was actually from Georgia Tech.

    The Salt Lake Buzz have filed a motion to dismiss Georgia Tech’s infringement suit.

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