TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Sunday, September 11, 2016

University Of Houston Gets Patent Office To Suspend South Texas's Trademark Application For 'Houston College Of Law'

Houston South TexasFollowing up on my previous posts (links below):  Houston Chronicle, Not So Fast: UH Brings Temporary Halt to Rival Law School's Trademark Efforts:

The downtown law school known for most of its existence as the South Texas College of Law has hit another snag in its rebranding effort.

While the freshly renamed Houston College of Law awaits a judge's ruling in a federal lawsuit filed by its crosstown rival the University of Houston Law School, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has officially suspended the application for a logo featuring the scales of justice with its new name, on the heels of a complaint filed by UH.

The private law school, which opened 93 years ago, applied for the trademark on May 12. It began using its new name and logo - a peachy red-and-white image of balanced scales of justice with the words "Houston College of Law" and "Established in 1923" beneath - on billboards, promotional materials and letterhead shortly thereafter.

The UH Board of Regents sued the institution on June 27 for using a name and color scheme that it said was too similar to UH's. UH sought an emergency injunction, in hopes the court would order the newly rebranded law school to stop using its new name until there was a final determination in the case.

The latest head-to-head between law school lawyers began with a request from the UH counsel to the federal trademark office, where a government lawyer is assigned to review each application to register a trademark. UH asked the trademark lawyer for the government to hold off on reviewing Houston College of Law's logo application until the judge rules on its civil suit.

This week, the agency notified Houston College of Law that its application had been suspended.

The trademark and patent office, which falls under the executive branch of government, must defer to the judiciary to resolve these sorts of questions in individual cases, so the suspension was not unusual, but it was also not automatic, according to lawyers familiar with trademark proceedings. ...

U.S. News & World Report sends out ballots in October for its annual ranking. In the 2016 rankings, the UH law school tied for 50th in the nation, but South Texas College of Law did not make the cut for the top 150.

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

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