The University of Southern California recently emerged victorious in an off-the-field battle with the University of South Carolina. The trademark dispute was over the use of the interlocking “SC” logo, used by both schools. A federal appeals court ruled that Southern California still has the legal ownership of the trademark logo. The two schools have locked horns over the logo since 2002, when South Carolina attempted to federally register their logo. Southern California already had a registered trademark on the interlocking letters, and asserted that the logos were too similar. The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) agreed, and South Carolina made a counterclaim, which it also lost.
Since that time, South Carolina has been trying to appeal the ruling. On January 19 it lost yet another round. Although the school can take legal action against certain unauthorized reproduction of the logo, trademark registration would grant them indisputable protection. The fact that they have been actively seeking a trademark for over 8 years demonstrates the importance of this legal safeguard.