Caps Sued Over Weagle

Designer claims infringementA few weeks ago a lawsuit was filed against the Washington Capitals for copyright infringement. Apparently, a fan from Vienna claims the team's new secondary logo, introduced in 2007, was his idea.

Here's an excerpt from an article in the Washington Business Journal from June 18:

Chris Joannou claims he started tinkering with the Caps’ old logo in his spare time in 1993. He sent the team an unsolicited drawing of an eagle and the Capitol dome embedded in a hockey stick. Very Pittsburgh Penguin-y, but the late Abe Pollin, the Caps owner at the time, allegedly acknowledged the design in a July 1993 letter.

“Very creative, very bold, and I like it,” Pollin supposedly wrote. “We haven’t thought of changing the Capitals’ logo or name; but, if and when we do, your logo will certainly be given consideration.”

A couple of years later, Joannou alleges, he showed Caps officials two versions of another proposed logo, this time with an eagle astride the Capitol building, its wings outstretched in a “W” shape.

The law firm Stueve Siegel Hanson are representing Joannou and included another version of the Weagle logo in their complaint. What do you guys think of them?

Lawsuit logo comparison

It's worth noting there is a reason most pro sports teams don't accept unsolicited artwork. Crap like this. I'm not discounting Joannou's claims. Maybe he created this in the 90s, maybe he didn't. Maybe it's similar, maybe it's not. That's for a judge to decide. All I know is that if you give someone artwork without any prior agreements, you're just setting yourself up for problems.

If you find yourself wanting to submit artwork to a team, I highly recommend first reading this post about unsolicited artwork over at PuckDrawn. Johnny's got a lot of great information there for logo designers, including an Idea Submission Form.

Meantime, I'll try to keep an eye on this story and see where it goes. The Weagle is possibly one of the most popular secondary logos in the NHL. It would be a shame to see it disappear.