California Intellectual Property Blog


Ohio State Files an Opposition to Block Oklahoma's “O” Trademark

San Diego – Ohio State University recently filed a Notice of Opposition opposing the University of Oklahoma’s trademark application of an image of a drum major with a block “O” on the front of the uniform. The University of Oklahoma filed the application on December 7, 2017.
In the opposition filed with the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Ohio State claims that the block letter “O” has been used on its uniforms and merchandise since 1898. The opposition states that the block letter “O” is the “heart of the branding and image of Ohio State and is used in connection with all products and services offered and provided by Ohio State.”
In the Opposition, Ohio States cites its existing trademark registrations for the block letter “O” which registered in 1997, 2003, and 2013 for various goods and services including sporting events and apparel. The University of Oklahoma claims that its block “O” has been in use since 2001. Oklahoma often uses its block letter “O” in combination with a block letter “U” to form “OU”. Ohio State claims that consumer confusion is increased because of the shared area of use between the universities including musical band competitions and sports events.
This is not the first trademark dispute Ohio State has had with another University. Ohio State has had similar disputes with Oregon State University, and in 2017, Ohio State settled a trademark dispute with Oklahoma State over the acronym “OSU.” Ohio State and Oklahoma State came to an agreement that each can use the abbreviation as long as it’s not combined with the other school’s mascot. The Ohio State and Oklahoma State agreement came after Ohio State filed a trademark application in February of 2017 stating they planned to use “OSU” on apparel. Shortly after the application was filed, Oklahoma State filed a Request for Extension to oppose Ohio State’s trademark application.
In the present case, Ohio State likely has an uphill battle because it is questionable whether consumers are likely to be confused between the block letter “O” and an image of a drum major with a relatively small block letter “O” on the front of the uniform.


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