Ohio State, Oklahoma at Odds Over Block 'O' Trademark

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Dayton Daily News (Ohio)


There can — apparently — only be one block "O" trademark, or at least that's what Ohio State University leaders think.

Ohio State filed a motion Aug. 29 opposing the University of Oklahoma's attempt to trademark the block "O," according to records submitted to the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Ohio State's opposition comes after Oklahoma's board of regents tried to file a trademark for its block "O" at the end of 2017.

In its motion, Ohio State's attorney claims that its block "O" has been used since the year 1898 on athletic uniforms and other promotional material.

"Today the Block O Mark 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," the motion filed by attorney Samantha Quimby of Frost Brown Todd LLC in Columbus.

Ohio State first registered a trademark for a version of its block "O" logo in 1997, then another version in 2003 and a third in 2013, the trademark documents state.

The logo in particular that Ohio State is opposing is an image from Oklahoma of a drum major in a uniform with a block "O" on it. The University of Oklahoma claims it has used the block "O" mark since 2001, according to the website NewsOK.

"The likelihood for confusion is increased in situations such as this where the relevant consumer base, such as fans of collegiate athletic and musical band competitions, would presume a connection to Ohio State," OSU's motion states.

Last year, Ohio State settled a trademark dispute with Oklahoma State University for the use of the abbreviation "OSU." The two schools agreed to each use the acronym so long as its not combined with the opposing school's mascott.

Ohio State has had similar trademark disputes with Oregon State University, records from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office show.

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September 5, 2018


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