Florida Atlantic University Suddenly Decides Owl Tutoring's Name Is Trademark Infringement After Over A Decade
from the too-late dept
As some of you may be aware, Florida Atlantic University’s sports teams and mascots are the Owls. As some of you may also be aware, the southeast is home to Owl Tutoring, a college tutoring service with a fairly good reputation. Owl Tutoring has existed for over a decade and has even promoted itself by advertising in FAU publications. That’s probably why it took the folks at the company by such surprise to suddenly get a C&D letter from FAU’s legal team accusing it of committing trademark infringement.
Owl Tutoring has had a close relationship with the university for many years, including operating on campus for almost five years before moving off-campus to the FAU business incubator. Despite this long-standing association, FAU is now claiming that Owl Tutoring is violating its trademark.
Owl Tutoring believes the university can’t claim exclusive rights in the term “owl” in connection with tutoring services because the term is highly suggestive for these services given that owls are a well-known symbol for wisdom and knowledge. The company also notes there are over a dozen coexisting registered and pending trademarks incorporating the term “owl” for educational services.
In addition to pointing out that using the term “owl” for educational services is both widely done and potentially generic, Owl Tutoring also wondered out loud in its response letter to FAU just where the school has been for the past decade if it had a problem with the company’s name.
In response to FAU legal filings, Owl Tutoring asserted that FAU’s claims of trademark infringement are invalid because the university slept on its rights to object for more than 10 years, while actively supporting Owl Tutoring’s activities. Owl Tutoring has advertised its services in the FAU College of Business’ lobby, posted flyers approved by FAU and rendered services in FAU classrooms reserved by university staff explicitly for Owl Tutoring’s use.
Owl Tutoring, which is headed by an FAU alumnus, ends its response by politely suggesting that perhaps the legal team for FAU wasn’t aware of the close relationship between the two entities. Regardless of whether or not that is true, it sure would be hard to imagine a jury or court finding that the company suddenly infringed after a decade of coexisting with the university.
Let’s hope this is just a case of an overeager legal partner.
Filed Under: owls, trademark, turoting
Companies: fau, florida atlantic university, owl tutoring
Comments on “Florida Atlantic University Suddenly Decides Owl Tutoring's Name Is Trademark Infringement After Over A Decade”
Over eager legal beagles
Is that a new breed of dog, or some lesser species? They seem to be breeding exponentially.
Looked things up. The only recognisable point of contention really is just the use of the word "owl". It takes a truly very special kind of idiocy not to know your own logo comes from a symbol of knowledge, learning and wisdom that has been generic since literally over half a millennium before the birth of Christ, much less threaten suit over it.
Cultural illiteracy is a bad thing when you represent a university. Whoever thought this threat letter was a good idea clearly needs to go back to school.
It may have been done before
It seems certain that FAU have registered trademarks involving owls. It may be a specific bit of art, or the term in combination with FAU (e.g. “FAU Owl Football”).
Or, it could be more generic. It could have been vetted and approved by the same patent and trademark office that spent years approving “x on a computer” applications.
Re: It may have been done before
FAU’s trademarks are made freely available by them over the internet, along with licensing details:
It’s unclear as to what precise trademark’s been allegedly infringed. The respective logos aren’t vaguely similar, not even if you squint. The names aren’t similar, nor in a similar font or even in the same sentence case.
In the reply letter, even the respondent’s lawyer says he can’t tell what’s supposed to have been infringed.
The only similarities with anything are between: the word "owl" in Owl Tutoring’s name, set against the image of an owl in some FAU logos; and the use of the colour blue by both companies – and it’s a visibly slightly different colour blue, at that.
Perhaps FAU thinks it owns all usage of darker shades of blue in relation to education services? Maybe the lawyer thinks he’s T-Mobile. 😛
Owls are supposed to be smart. Frankly, if you really need tutoring, do you even belong in college? (oh, right… "athletic scholarship")
Yes. Some people need a little help in some classes, and there is nothing wrong with that. If you never need any help with anything, you’re probably not challenging yourself enough.
Let them sue Hooters!
Temple University might want to have a talk with Florida Atlantic University.
Next on the to do list:
Re: Next on the to do list:
(sorry, hit Enter, not tab)
Next sue Mister Roger’s Neighborhood of Make-Believe! That owl was always taking courses from Owl Correspondence School (dear O.C.S.).
We can’t have ANY owls teaching!
Re: Re: Next on the to do list:
After that on the to-do list is Blathers from Nintendo’s Animal Crossing.
We don’t want to have any intelligent owls be curators of museums, now do we?
Next they could sue JK Rowling…
Yeat Rowling published in 1993
So when did FU register their hooter?
More like J. K. Owling!
eh? eh? no? ok.
I suspect e.e.milne has prior by a good few decades…