Just when you thought attempting to trademark the word “The” was the greatest length Ohio State could reach in attempting to shield its precious brand, the school went ahead and picked a fight over a single letter.
Overtime Sports Inc., an online sports network, sued Ohio State University in federal court on Monday after the school attempted to block the company from trademarking its letter “O” logo, according to the Associated Press.
Ohio State reportedly asked Overtime in July to stop using the logo, claiming it was too similar to its own trademarked block “O.” In response, Overtime filed a lawsuit in New York City, where the company is based, to request that the school be prohibited from attempting to stop Overtime from using its logo.
Overtime’s trademark application is still reportedly pending at the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
Are the two logos similar enough that Overtime’s use of its logo would cause confusion with Ohio State’s brand? Take a look for yourself.
As you can see, both logos use the letter “O,” though Overtime’s features a completely different color and rounded corners. The company argues that use of the letter “O” is too widespread for Ohio State to hold control over it, similar to why Ohio State’s failed “The” trademark was so widely mocked.
From the AP:
“There are numerous O marks, O-formative marks, and O designs in use by third parties in connection with the relevant goods and services, such that consumers will not presume that all goods and services offered under O or O-formative marks emanate from a common source,” Laura Popp-Rosenberg, an attorney representing Overtime Sports, argued in the lawsuit.
Ohio State’s argument goes so far as to say that the “vast majority” of people recognize a block “O” as Ohio State’s turf:
“While Ohio State recognizes there are many legitimate, non-confusing uses of the letter ‘O’, there can be no doubt that when the vast majority of people see a Block ‘O' they associate it with Ohio State and its Block O Marks,” Samantha Quimby, an attorney retained by Ohio State to argue its case, wrote in a July 19 letter to Overtime Sports. The university has used the block 0 since at least 1898, the letter said.
Funnily enough, this isn’t even the first time Ohio State has attempted to foil a trademark attempt of a block “O,” as it did something similar against the University of Oklahoma in 2018. The school has also gotten into a legal fight with Oklahoma State University over the use of “OSU,” which led to a peaceful agreement between the schools.
We can only wonder what Ohio State’s next legal fight will be.
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