By Brad Whitehouse
Associate News Editor
A volunteer student tutor group is angry and disheartened after a private company with an almost identical name and logo moved onto campus this fall.
“They have changed their logo and colour scheme to look exactly like ours,” said Fareena Khan, a fourth-year business student and president of Ryerson SOS, a volunteer-based student tutor group.
SOS, short for Students Offering Support, is a national not-for-profit organization that offers tutoring services as a fundraiser to send students to build schools in Latin America. A Ryerson chapter started up last year but a private company named SOS Tutoring Inc., expanded from Montreal to Toronto this September, and both tutor service’s logos are deep blue with the SOS moniker and an open book.
Greg Overholt, executive director and founder of SOS, said there are too many similarities for it to be a coincidence.
“They’re trying to mimic and steal our brand,” he said. “They’re trying to copy our brand to profit off of it.”
But Dan Chetrit, CEO of SOS Tutoring Inc., doesn’t see the comparison between the two logos.
“Ours is actually completely the opposite. Our name is inside of a book and the book shapes the other way. And we don’t have a globe,” he said.
According to the company, SOS Tutoring Inc. has operated for five years. They previously used a very different logo, but the company did a full trademark change this summer before setting up new outlets at Ryerson, the University of Toronto and York University this fall.
“I have to assume it was because they were moving into the area,” said Overholt.
Overholt said the conflict is mainly at Ryerson, where it seems that SOS Tutoring Inc. is focusing its marketing. Right now, Ryerson SOS is trying to figure out how they will continue.
“It’s very disheartening to our volunteers,” he said.
SOS hasn’t had any communication with SOS Tutoring Inc and hasn’t taken any legal action against the company.
At SOS Tutoring Inc., Chetrit said his lawyers are confident that there is no case of infringement.
“If it were litigated, we’ve got complete rights to the name and to the brand and to the logo.”