University of Houston Files Trademark Infringement Lawsuit Against South Texas College of Law

Today the University of Houston issued a press release stating:

"The University of Houston System has filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against South Texas College of Law (STCL).  The suit, filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Houston, alleges STCL’s announced name change to 'Houston College of Law' and its adoption of UH’s red and white color scheme constitutes “intentional and willful infringement of UH’s intellectual property and unfair competition,” which results in “confusion in the marketplace and damage” to the university and its brand.

"'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 of 2016, South Texas College of Law was not ranked in U.S. News & World Report Rankings of Best Law Schools.  In the press release announcing its name change, STCL admitted it has struggled to gain visibility in nearly 90 years since it was founded, with minimal national name recognition of roughly two percent. 

"Conversely, UH is a Tier One Carnegie Research institution, rated in the top 15 percent of all universities by the Princeton Review.  For 2016, the University of Houston Law Center is ranked 50th among U.S. law schools by U.S. News & World Report and is ranked No. 29 by the National Law Journal among 'Go to' law schools based on the percentage of graduates hired by the top 250 law firms in the nation. …  

"'The University of Houston Law Center has worked hard for its national reputation,' said Buzbee.  'We intend to protect it.'

"The lawsuit states an STCL name change to ‘Houston College of Law’ will result in confusion among the market of law students, potential law students, lawyers and consumers of legal services.  Such rebranding results in the belief that there is some affiliation between the two schools, that UH approves of STCL legal education services, or that UH and STCL are one in the same entity.  The suit seeks relief from the court that prevents STCL’s use of its proposed name."

The original press release from the University of Houston can be found here.