The recent trademark dispute between the University of Texas (UT) and Virginia Commonwealth University involving the trademark for ‘havoc’ highlights the issue of trademark disputes across state lines. By way of background, when Virginia Commonwealth University’s (or VCU) head basketball coach left to accept the same position at the University of Texas, the University of Texas, via its Board of Regents, filed Intent to Use trademark applications with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for ‘Horns Havoc’ as well as ‘House of Havoc’. This raised eyebrows within the trademark community, media in Virginia and Austin, Texas, as well as between the two schools. VCU, as the first to make use of the Havoc mark in connection with various apparel and other items, arguably had a claim of trademark infringement. Interestingly, VCU had not applied for, let alone registered a trademark for ‘Havoc’ with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Instead, they had relied upon a state trademark.
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