Carrie Salls Aug. 30, 2016, 11:39am


HOUSTON – U.S. District Judge Keith P. Ellison has taken under advisement the University of Houston’ motion for a preliminary injunction against the former South Texas College of Law’s changing its name to the Houston College of Law following an Aug. 26 hearing on the injunction request.

 

According to a minute entry on the docket for the case pending in the Houston Division of the Southern District of Texas, the University of Houston’s sur-reply to the Houston College of Law’s response to the injunction motion must be filed by Sept. 6.

 

“The word ‘Houston’ is not the property of the University of Houston System plaintiffs,” the Houston College of Law said in its response to the injunction request. “Houston College of Law has the right to claim Houston not only as its heritage, its cultural touchstone, and its home, but also as part of its name.”

 

South Texas College of Law was founded under that name, but the name change to Houston College of Law took effect on July 1. Houston College of Law said in its response that it is the oldest law school in Houston.

 

“In replacing ‘South Texas’ in its name with ‘Houston,’ the college has adopted a name that reflects its location and its mission,” the injunction response said. “The college has no desire to associate itself with U of H, or the law school associated with U of H. Both schools are venerable institutions, each with much to be proud of in its own right.”

 

Houston College of Law said the University of Houston cannot prove that its law school marks are distinctive, or that the Houston College of Law’s alleged infringement is likely to cause confusion among the relevant consumers.

 

In addition, Houston College of Law said there is no reason that the schools cannot co-exist, arguing that other major U.S. cities are home to multiple law schools that bear their cities’ names.

 

Houston College of Law said it would incur significant costs if the injunction motion is granted and it was ordered to go back to its former name until the University of Houston’s infringement lawsuit goes to trial and then possibly resume using the new name after the final ruling is made.

 

As a result, the Houston College of Law is asking the court to order the University of Houston to post a $500,000 bond if the injunction is granted. The Houston College of Law said that money could be used to compensate it for costs and damages if it prevails at trial.

 

The University of Houston said it filed this lawsuit to enforce its federal and common-law trademark rights and to stop further confusion among concerning affiliation between the two schools.

 

The University of Houston said in an amended complaint filed Aug. 10 that Houston College of Law’s actions intentionally and willfully infringe upon the university’s intellectual property and are also violations of the unfair competition laws in the state of Texas.

 

In addition to the South Texas College of Law name change, the University of Houston said the Houston College of Law also changed its school colors to predominantly red and white, the same colors that have been used by the university since 1934.

The University of Houston said it would not object to South Texas changing its name to South Texas College of Law at Houston, since that name is less likely to cause confusion.

 

“Through this 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,” the university said in its amended complaint. “Through this suit, UH seeks to protect its hard-earned reputation and its well-known brand.”

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Organizations in this Story

University of Houston Law Center
100 Law Center
Houston,

South Texas College of Law
1303 San Jacinto St
Houston, TX 77002

Houston Division of the Southern District of Texas
515 Rusk Street
Houston, TX 77002

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