Court Says U Of Southern California Only One Who Can Use USC; Sorry U Of South Carolina

from the trademark-madness dept

DEF points us to a recent appeals court (federal circuit) ruling that held that the University of South Carolina cannot use the letters USC on its sports uniforms because the University of Southern California already claims those letters. Seriously. It’s hard to see how this makes much sense at all. USC is an accurate acronym for both schools, and it makes no sense to limit it. In an amazingly obnoxious gloating victory note, the lawyer for the USC from California “suggested that the letters were more deservedly linked to the Trojans’ warrior image than to ‘a goofy little chicken,'” by which he meant the logo of the South Carolina teams. The lawyer for the USC from the east coast noted that “Southern manners” kept him from responding to that point.

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Comments on “Court Says U Of Southern California Only One Who Can Use USC; Sorry U Of South Carolina”

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senshikaze says:

Re: Well, yeah...

It was the name of the team that went afoul of his “southern manners”. a citizen of the south, I can tell you straight that nobody here can take an insult sitting down. Unless his team happens to be the gamecocks. It’s par for the course there. But then again, they get cheerleaders like this:

I have seen at least one fan with “I love my Cocks” on their t-shirt. They may be frightenly proud of their cocks.

(dammit. made it to the last sentence without laughing…)

impiri (user link) says:


While I agree wholeheartedly with the spirit of this article, the facts are a bit off. The source article left out quite a few significant details.

The lawsuit wasn’t about the letters “USC”. It’s about one specific configuration of letters: the interlocking letters “SC” as used by the baseball programs of both schools. Southern California argued that South Carolina’s logo was confusingly similar. (As a South Carolina alumnus and a Techdirt fan, I think that’s ridiculous, but hey.)

Bob Bunderfeld (profile) says:

Date Started?

Why Southern Cal is allowed USC over South Carolina I don’t understand.

University of South Carolina was established in 1805, while University of Southern California was established in 1880. It would seem to me that if either of these two Schools had the “right” to use the letters of USC, the one who was established first should be given that “right”.

Like many though, it’s still silly to think that USC can only mean “University of Southern California”. Although, with Lane Kiffin now at USC (West) I imagine the Dean of the College is doing everything he can to make sure USC stays with USC (West) even after the NCAA deals them a Death Penalty of Recruiting Violations.


Fred McTaker (profile) says:

This trademark dispute came up before, between the same schools

This all started with UoS-California’s “USC Graphic Identity Program” in 1994. They won the right to the USC trademark back then, after a similar legal fight with UoS-Carolina, so that they could make it a standard part of their letterhead, etc.

This SC interlock logo seems more about the sports promotion side, and UoS-California was first to market with their use. The Gamecocks not only tried a similar interlocking SC pattern on sportswear, but also had similar shades of red on the lettering to the existing TM.

A reminder: Trademark ownership is not based on first to business or even first to use, but only the first registered use in commerce. The game company Insomniac Games won a similar TM scuffle against another game company Insomniac Studios, because Insomniac Games were the first company with a game on the shelves with their “Insomniac” TM on the packaging. Insomniac Studios changed their name before their first release to resolve it. Insomniac is still a dictionary word that anyone can use. The fight here is over branding and use in commerce or promotion, not about who can use the USC abbreviation in other contexts.

Danny says:

This is stupid. Anyone that is a fan of either will know which is which by colors (BTW what are U of SCalifornia’s colors?). So.Cal. did this knowing full well that most people associate USC with South Carolina (I mean I’ve never even heard of U of Sout. Cal. until now) and they wanted that recognition. Does anyone know if these two schools meet in any college sports? I don’t like college sports that much but I would go to said game just to cheer for U of South Carolina.

SouthCakC23 says:

look it up!

USC was first charted as a college in 1805. They were first chartered as a UNIVERSITY in 1866. So Cal was chartered as a University in 1880. I have no problem with So Cal keeping the rights to “SC”…..but some people keep ignorantly referring to So Cal as USC. Thr Trojans have a “SC” on their athletic team uniforms for a reason: THEY ARE NOT USC!

WBT986 says:

Yeah, because being named after a Revolutionary War commander who earned the nickname the Carolina Gamecock for his fierce battle tactics is much more silly than being named after an ancient civilization who is known for being wiped out in a war and has no connection to the state of California. Well I guess I can see how a silly chicken threatens the Trojans warrior image. The Gamecocks mascot historically has a warrior image and the Trojans are legendary for losing.

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