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Ohio State in Legal Battle Over 'O' Logo

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Ohio State University is in a trademark dispute over the letter “O.”

The university in Columbus, Ohio is being sued by Overtime Sports Inc. for trying to ban a logo that Ohio State believes is too similar to Ohio State’s trademarked “block O,” according to the Associated Press.

The university sent a cease and desist to Overtime Sports, a digital media company that uses an “O” logo that is green and more rounded than Ohio State’s scarlet and gray logo. The July cease and desist letter, written by attorney Samantha Quimby, said that “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.”

Overtime Sports, created in 2016 to primarily cover high school basketball and football, filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York on Dec. 23. The New York-based company is seeking legal clarification that it can continue to use its logo without worrying about any legal action from Ohio State. Overtime Sports is seeking a jury trial, a formal declaration barring Ohio State from future legal action against Overtime, and any applicable compensation.

“The differences between the parties’ trademarks and manners of use prevent any likelihood of confusion,” the federal suit says, according to Cincinnati.com. “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.”

Upon applying to register its logo with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Overtime Sports said its logo is “distinctive in large part to its sloping corners within each of its concentric shapes, which contract with the sharp-cornered rectangle at its center.”

In contrast, Overtime Sports says that Ohio State’s logos “feature an octagonal shape in each of its concentric shapes. They contain neither any rounded edge nor any rectangle.”

Overtime Sports' trademark is pending.

Ohio State spokesman Chris Davey said in an email to the Associated Press that the school “works to protect the university’s brand and trademarks because these assets hold significant value, which benefits our students and faculty and the broader community by supporting teaching, research and service.”

Ohio State’s attempt to trademark the word “The” was denied in September.

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