When people think of trademark lawsuits they usually don’t expect institutions of learning to be involved, but most colleges, universities, and private schools are in fact businesses and compete for tuition money with other schools, thus their trademarks are just as valuable as any.
Last week The University of Houston, a public system founded in 1927, filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against The Houston College of Law. Up until about a month ago, Houston College of Law was the South Texas College of Law, founded in 1923.
The lawsuit from University of Houston contends that the new name (Houston College of Law), along with a new red, white & blue color scheme is “confusingly similar” to their own color scheme and registered trademarks. They further stated that the new name and color scheme will result in “loss of revenue and reputation.” Their argument points out that the University of Houston’s law school is rated in the top 50 law schools, while South Texas College of Law never ranked among the top schools.
Meanwhile, the South Texas College of Law’s website writes that it stands behind its name change and is prepared to defend its decision in court. Board Chairman Ken Johnson states that the school has been an “integral part of downtown Houston for almost a century,” and that the name change brings a stronger association with the city of Houston.
Protect Your Business Identity.
This isn’t the first trademark case between two institutions of higher learning and with schools competing for students. And as I have said so often before, your trademark is an integral part of your business and its identity and needs to be protected.