More than 150 years since the Battle of Gettysburg, a new battle may be brewing over ownership of the Gettysburg Area School District’s (GASD) logo.

The current iteration of the logo – an upper case “G” inside of an arrowhead to represent the district’s Warriors nickname – was created ten years ago by a school district employee but was never registered as a trademark.

No one gave it a second thought until Kierstan (Demps) Belle, a candidate for Gettysburg city council and a 2010 graduate of the district, announced that she paid $50 and filed an application with the Pennsylvania Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations to acquire the rights to the logo, which she says was approved in September. Belle says that for GASD to continue to use the logo it will need to pay her royalties and agree to special conditions. She says that she wants to use the royalties to fund student activities that have been cut or underfunded, and the special conditions she wants the district to comply with are values that support “the Warrior Way.”

Local public reaction has been decidedly against Belle, with some of the more civil comments labeling her attempt to receive royalties “extortion.”  Attorneys for GASD confirmed they sent Belle a “cease and desist” letter but haven’t made any further comment about the situation.

For her part, Belle has made comments to local media that indicate she might be wishing for a do-over with the way her idea has been unveiled, and that she will say more in the near future.

Whether Belle’s intentions were good or not, legal experts concur that this is a common mistake made by people who don’t understand trademark law and expect registering a trademark that they have never used can generate money for themselves or their organization.