USC Trumps USC in Legal Battle

Southern California wins trademark lawsuit over South Carolina.

By + More

The University of Southern California won a six-year logo conflict against the other USC, the University of South Carolina, the Los Angeles Times reports. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ruled the West Coast USC has priority when it comes to the "SC" logo. South Carolina essentially cannot trademark the logo but will most likely still be able to use "SC" in its marketing and may still be able to collect royalties, a South Carolina official said.

The 93-page decision hinged on how long each school had used its current version of the "SC" logo, the State reports:

Southern California showed it had used its interlocking "SC" logo for a longer, continuous time. South Carolina was ruled to have abandoned its "SC" logo in 1982 and used the current one since only 1997. Southern Cal had adopted its logo "no later" than 1967, according to the patent office.

South Carolina argued that its use of "SC" represented the state as a whole and not just the university, and that its use predated the Revolutionary War. But the patent office relied on the actual registration of the logo.

It found that if both schools kept using the "SC" logo, there was a likelihood of confusion. The patent office also pointed out that South Carolina used different versions of the interlocking logo before adopting the current one in 1997.

South Carolina's "USC" logo, however, is safe from legal prosecution, thanks to an agreement between the schools in the early '80s. Check out the Times for more on both USC's trademark troubles.