Edina Public Schools' longtime green-and-yellow hornet logo is heading toward extinction, the district's superintendent announced Thursday.

The reluctant decision by the district came after the owner of the copyright to the logo, an Edina High School alum, sued this week in federal court. The suit added hefty financial compensation to his insistence that school administrators put the brakes on its use without his permission, as required by the decades-old contract he has with the district.

Superintendent Stacie Stanley said in her announcement that the district tried in numerous ways to retain the logo but failed to find a solution that was satisfactory to longtime rights holder Michael Otto, who raised objections months ago when he sent a "cease and desist" order last spring objecting to the image being used for profit by a third-party apparel retailer without his sign-off.

"Throughout the fall, we continued to attempt to negotiate with Mr. Otto in an effort to buy the copyright or enter into a licensing agreement to retain the logo," Stanley said in a letter sent to district employees, students' families and others in the Edina schools community. "We believe we've made good faith offers and have not been able to reach an agreement. Despite our efforts, earlier this week, Mr. Otto filed a lawsuit against the district for its use of the logo."

Stanley said that the district was left with no choice to not just pause putting the hornet on additional uniforms, signage and other district property, but to start removing it from current locations altogether, starting with areas "most readily accessible."

One quick fix taken was to toss a tarp over the image on the press box at the school district's Kuhlman Stadium.

However, Stanley added, "some removal efforts, however, such as [on] gym floors and the field, will take some time. The cost to remove and replace all Hornet images could be substantial.

"We are sorry that the Hornet logo as we know it, a symbol of our Edina school community, may change. Plans for a new Hornet image will be developed and announced in the future."

Otto, who now lives in Grove City, Minn., said Thursday he did not want to react to the announcement until after speaking with his attorneys, who were not immediately available to comment.

The hornet logo, with its menacing scowl, has been a symbol of athletic success while stitched on the uniforms of many dozens of Edina teams that have won state championships in tennis, swimming, hockey and other sports.

But fear not hornet faithful, "Edina teams will continue to be the Hornets with a Hornet mascot," said district spokeswoman Mary Woitte. "It's about the 'look' of the image, not the name itself."

Marty Nanne graduated from Edina in 1984 and skated on a state championship hockey team that year, and sons Louie and Tyler did the same many years later.

"How does this happen after years of having the logo?" Nanne said. "Hopefully, someone very creative and talented can make something as good or better."

Otto created the hornet image and had it copyrighted after he won a district logo contest in 1981. Otto, who works as a community chaplain and professional Santa, has said the disagreement wasn't about money, at least on his end.

"I got to design my high school's logo — why would I ever charge a dime?" Otto said at the time of his cease and desist order. "I want the legacy of it standing the test of time; I want it to be the logo forever."

Otto said the issue was whether the district needed to respect his copyright and the agreement that gives him the right to decide anytime Edina wants to embroider the hornet on a hockey uniform, stamp it on the bell of a marching-band tuba or paint it on a school floor.

He said the arrangement had gone well until recent years, when district officials decided to take the image to an out-of-state company that sells school-logo clothing and other products — and refused to give him an accounting of how much money it made or where the logo might end up.

"Edina High School is not above the law," he said at the time the dispute went public. "You can't say because you're Edina you can do what you want, when you want, and I should just roll over."