Student paper resumes discussions with Georgetown over Hoya name

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The wheels are once again in motion forGeorgetown’s student newspaper The Hoya to become independent from theuniversity.

On Jan. 30, Hoya leaders and university officials, along with legalcounsel for both parties, met to discuss the future of the paper. Student AlexSchank, chairman of the paper’s Board of Directors, described the meeting as “afrank and open discussion” with the university.

The Hoya last pushed for financial and editorial independence fromthe university in 2006, but negotiations stopped when university administratorssaid the paper could not keep The Hoya name if it became independent.

At last week’s meeting, university officials voiced their concerns and thetwo 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 thatThe Hoya could keep its name,” he said. “It is an 88-year-old Georgetowntradition. It would be really sad if it was lost.”

Director of Student Programs Erika Cohen-Derr, who was present at themeeting, said the university supports independence for the paper but that thereare also many complexities involved.

The next meeting between the university and the paper could take place inthe next few weeks, Schank said, but no date has been set yet.

The paper has been promoting its independence by reaching out to studentorganizations through its “Save The Hoya” campaign, which includes a Website and Facebook group.

Schank wrote in an e-mail to the Student Press Law Center that he is notsure if independence will be contingent on the paper keeping its name, butHoya leaders will evaluate their options if negotiations fail.

Georgetown applied for a trademark on The Hoya name and masthead inAugust 2006. Schank requested for a time extension to file in opposition to bothtrademark applications last month, according to the U.S. Patent and TrademarkOffice Web site.

If the paper did file an opposition, Georgetown could argue it already hasregistered for other uses of the term “Hoya” and that the student paper’s use ofthe term could be confused with the other rights, said Robert Brauneis, aprofessor of trademark law at George Washington University.

Georgetown could also have a stronger argument for the trademark because ithas owned the paper for such a long period of time.

“Since the newspaper was a university institution or product since 1920, Idon’t see how they could make an argument for the name,” Brauneissaid.

The paper could argue it should be able to keep The Hoya namebecause it is synonymous with student media at Georgetown. But the school couldcounter by noting that it could start a new student newspaper under The Hoyaname, said Adam Goldstein, attorney advocate for the SPLC.

The paper’s other option would be to convince Georgetown to grant anindependent Hoya a license to use the name, Brauneis said.

But even if Georgetown and The Hoya reach an agreement, the paperwill not immediately be ready to break away from the school.

“While we have done quite a bit of the planning for making the moveto independence, there are a whole host of logistics that we will have toaddress once the name issue is resolved,” Schank wrote in the e-mail.