Student paper resumes discussions with Georgetown over Hoya name
Paper wants to go independent, but faces steep hurdles in effort to keep longstanding moniker
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The wheels are once again in motion for Georgetown's student newspaper The Hoya to become independent from the university.
On Jan. 30, Hoya leaders and university officials, along with legal counsel for both parties, met to discuss the future of the paper. Student Alex Schank, chairman of the paper's Board of Directors, described the meeting as "a frank and open discussion" with the university.
The Hoya last pushed for financial and editorial independence from the university in 2006, but negotiations stopped when university administrators said the paper could not keep The Hoya name if it became independent.
At last week's meeting, university officials voiced their concerns and the two sides discussed issues surrounding the paper keeping The Hoya name, Schank said.
"I'm optimistic ... that we could come to some sort of arrangement so that The Hoya could keep its name," he said. "It is an 88-year-old Georgetown tradition. It would be really sad if it was lost."
Director of Student Programs Erika Cohen-Derr, who was present at the meeting, said the university supports independence for the paper but that there are also many complexities involved.
The next meeting between the university and the paper could take place in the next few weeks, Schank said, but no date has been set yet.
The paper has been promoting its independence by reaching out to student organizations through its "Save The Hoya" campaign, which includes a Web site and Facebook group.
Schank wrote in an e-mail to the Student Press Law Center that he is not sure if independence will be contingent on the paper keeping its name, but Hoya leaders will evaluate their options if negotiations fail.
Georgetown applied for a trademark on The Hoya name and masthead in August 2006. Schank requested for a time extension to file in opposition to both trademark applications last month, according to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office Web site.
If the paper did file an opposition, Georgetown could argue it already has registered for other uses of the term "Hoya" and that the student paper's use of the term could be confused with the other rights, said Robert Brauneis, a professor of trademark law at George Washington University.
Georgetown could also have a stronger argument for the trademark because it has owned the paper for such a long period of time.
"Since the newspaper was a university institution or product since 1920, I don't see how they could make an argument for the name," Brauneis said.
The paper could argue it should be able to keep The Hoya name because it is synonymous with student media at Georgetown. But the school could counter by noting that it could start a new student newspaper under The Hoya name, said Adam Goldstein, attorney advocate for the SPLC.
The paper's other option would be to convince Georgetown to grant an independent Hoya a license to use the name, Brauneis said.
But even if Georgetown and The Hoya reach an agreement, the paper will not immediately be ready to break away from the school.
"While we have done quite a bit of the planning for making the move to independence, there are a whole host of logistics that we will have to address once the name issue is resolved," Schank wrote in the e-mail.
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