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Schoolroom Scuffle to Copyright Kerfuffle: Of Logos and Lawsuits

St. John's Central Academy Accused of Copyright Infringement After Ex-Valedictorian Candidate Seeks Compensation Over Poached Logo

St. John's Central Academy (Public Domain)
St. John's Central Academy (Public Domain)

This legal action stems from the alleged wrongful use of copyrighted materials by St. John's Central Academy, a private high school in Bellaire, Ohio, related to a new logo created by a former student, referred to as SW in court documents. SW was set to begin her senior year in the 2021-2022 school year before being dismissed from St. John, allegedly without any official reason or explanation. For privacy reasons, her real name has not been disclosed.

SW was an exceptional student, maintaining a 4.511 GPA and on track to be the valedictorian of her class. She had also earned 36 college credits and was nominated for the National Society of Leadership and Success by Wright State University. Despite struggling with an anxiety disorder, she excelled in various sports and was a well-respected student.

In March 2019, St. John's approached SW to design a new logo, and she invested numerous uncompensated hours into drawing and editing the logo until it was approved by the Board of Directors. However, she received no compensation for her creation and subsequently registered the logo with the United States Copyright Office.

SW was also asked to paint her new logo in the school’s gymnasium, and St. John's to this day uses her new logo on all official paperwork and promotional material with only very slight edits. In essence, the lawsuit alleges that St. John's wrongfully used the copyrighted logo without permission, claiming ownership and profiting from its use without compensating SW. The case is ongoing, and it remains to be seen how it will be resolved in court.