Today the University of Houston filed a trademark infringement suit against the South Texas College of Law to keep the former from changing its name to the Houston College of Law.  Specifically the complaint states:

South Texas College of Law (STCL) recently announced a name change to “Houston College of Law,” a name strikingly similar to the University of Houston Law Center and all of the various alternate marks associated with that institution (e.g. “Houston Law”). At the same time, STCL changed its colors to red and white – colors for many years associated with the University of Houston…… Through the name change and by adopting UH’s color scheme, STCL is attempting to associate itself with the standing and reputation of the University of Houston System and the University of Houston Law Center. STCL’s actions have resulted in, and likely will result in, confusion in the market place, causing damage to UH….. Through this suit, UH seeks to protect its hard earned reputation and its well-known brand.

According to this press release,

“This is about protecting our reputation and our business,” said Tilman Fertitta, chairman of the UH System Board of Regents.  “We’ve earned our standing as a nationally ranked law center, and we won’t allow someone else to change their name and colors and market themselves on our success.”

“The University of Houston Law Center’s brand is associated nationwide with top-notch faculty and lawyers,” said Tony Buzbee, principal of The Buzbee Law Firm, which is representing UH as lead counsel in addition to Sutton, McAughan, Deaver, PLLC.  “UH didn’t take shortcuts to achieve this recognition.  We believe the attempted renaming of South Texas College of Law is nothing more than an improper shortcut to take advantage of the success UH has achieved.”

As FOI  Jennifer Gerarda  Brown (Quinnipiac) has taught us, while lawsuits relating to identity issues are difficult to resolve, it’s not impossible.  Houston is the home of some great mediators, and I hope that one of them gets the opportunity to take a crack at this.

Art Hinshaw is a Clinical Professor of Law and the Director of the Lodestar Dispute Resolution Program at ASU Sandra Day O'Conner College of Law. His research and teaching interests focus primarily on mediation and negotiation, often bridging ADR theory and practice. He is an avid writer and contributor to ADR Prof Blog.