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USC Trojans defeat South Carolina's Gamecocks in trademark battle [Updated]

Would a reasonable person confuse a USC logo on a garnet-and-black ball cap in Columbia, S.C., with the same letters on cardinal-and-gold sportswear worn by a Trojans fan at the Coliseum?

Apparently so, a federal appeals court has decided in rejecting a petition from the Palmetto State to use the letters on baseball team clothing for the University of South Carolina Fighting Gamecocks.

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit on Tuesday upheld a decision last year by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office review board to recognize the University of Southern California's century-old claim to the logo letters.

Neil C. Jones, the Greenville, S.C., lawyer representing the University of South Carolina, couldn’t be reached immediately for comment on the court’s ruling.

[Updated 5:50 p.m.: Jones said school authorities hadn't yet decided whether to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court on the trademark issue.]

Scott Edelman, an attorney representing the Los Angeles university, hailed the ruling as protection of the school's "primary athletic mark" used on team clothing and equipment that brings in significant revenue. Sports logo registrations are not limited to use in team colors, so there was potential for South Carolina merchandise to be mistaken for that of USC, Edelman said.

He also suggested that the letters were more deservedly linked to the Trojans' warrior image than to "a goofy little chicken."

"I think they wanted to move away from the gamecock logo," Edelman said of the school in the South. "Something that is totally understandable."

-- Carol J. Williams

Comments () | Archives (12)

So..the joke has become a reality! Trojans over Gameocks. I hope they appeal and win.

Southern Cal might have won in court but Spurrier would destroy Kiffin on the football field.

I would think South Carolina would give people more credit than to tell the difference between a South Carolina & a USC cap.

I know of multiple occasions when I have worn a USC t-shirt outside of California, which has yielded many shouts of "GO GAMECOCKS!"
So it is fair to assume that the reasonable person can confuse the two.

Wow, Scott Edelman's comments show complete lack of respect for an institution of higher learning that has been around significantly longer than the other USC. It also shows that he knows nothing about history. That "goofy little chicken" is representative of an important Revolutionary War hero, Thomas Sumter. Perhaps Mr. Edelman should review the impact that South Carolina had in creating this nation versus the impact California did - oh, wait. That's right. Had it not been for the American Revolution to begin with, USC wouldn't have to worry about fighting over the logo for La Universidad de California del Sur.

This is a joke. Taking away something that is instilled as a tradition at another university for supposed marginal gain is crazy. You have to be on drugs to not tell the difference between the two SC logos. This proves lawyers have no moral compass.

I have never met Mr. Edelman, so I don't know from personal experience if he's a complete jack-ass. However, his comments certainly come across as though he is one.

Coaches tell players whenever they win to be good sports and act like you've been there before. Perhaps the President of the University of Southern California should tell his attorney the same thing.

Who would have thought that some lawyer representing a school with "Trojans" as a mascot would make fun of another team's mascot?

For one South Carolina's baseball jerseys don't have the gamecock on them so to say that they want to move away from that logo doesn't make any sense. Their caps have SC and the shirts have Carolina on them. No gamecock anywhere. Second The University of South Carolina has been USC 50 years longer than the state of California has existed. Third, and just a fun fact, the Gamecocks beat the trojans the last time they played them in football and are 1-1 against them all time.

If age matters for logo ownership, this USC has been using "USC" since 1495: http://www.usc.es/en/info_xeral/historia/

Actually the lawsuit is over the usage of SC, not USC. South Carolina legally has the USC logo, but was trying to re-trademark the SC logo as well after they've stopped using it in the 80's. And Southern Cal bitched.

The funny thing is that South Carolina athletic is more valuable and profitable than Southern Cal's.


Forbe's Top 20 most profitable college programs:

1. Texas Longhorns
2. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
3. Pennsylvania State Nittany Lions
4. Nebraska Cornhuskers
5. Alabama Crimson Tide
6. Florida Gators
7. Louisiana State Tigers
8. Ohio State Buckeyes
9. Georgia Bulldogs
10. Oklahoma Sooners
11. Michigan Wolverines
-------- 12. South Carolina Gamecocks --------
13. Tennessee Volunteers
14. Auburn Tigers
-------- 15. Southern California Trojans --------
16. Michigan State Spartans
17. Arkansas Razorbacks
18. Texas A&M Aggies
19. Wisconsin Badgers
20. Oklahoma State Cowboys

The issue should not be the letters "SC." Any school, agency, business, etc. that has the initials "SC" should be able to use those letters in a logo. The idea that letters can be trademarked and thus held from usage from others is preposterous. Southern Cal's logo and South Carolina's logo are distinguishable from one another. Both should be able to trademark "SC" in their respective designs. So should all other institutions with these intitials, as long as the way the letters appear are displayed in a unique way.


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