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University, app in clash over “O”

On Behalf of | Mar 10, 2020 | Intellectual Property

Many New York fans may cheer for Ohio State football on the field, but now the university’s legal team is heading to court in a different kind of challenge. The Ohio State University and Overtime, a sports video highlight sharing platform, are locked in a dispute over trademarks related to the capital letter “O.” Overtime has launched a lawsuit against the university in response to the latter’s attempt to prevent it from registering a new trademark. The video company, popular among high school athletes sharing clips of performances, is seeking a ruling to prevent Ohio State from blocking its trademark application for a stylized “O.”

Earlier, on July 26, 2019, Ohio State’s lawyers wrote to Overtime, asking the company to rescind its application for a trademark that features the letter “O.” The university claimed that there was a strong likelihood that people would be confused about whether the mark represented the video company or the university’s popular sports teams. The university has trademarked a blocky, red “O” mark that it uses to promote athletic goods, sweatshirts, caps and other items. Overtime rejected the university’s demands, and Ohio State followed up by filing a formal objection to the video company’s trademark application.

In its argument, Overtime says that many different companies and teams in the sports world use a variation on a capital letter “O” as a trademark. They say that other factors differentiate their logo from the university’s, given that Overtime’s letter is rounded, with a rectangle in the center, while Ohio State’s uses an octagon shape and a block design.

Just as in other fields, intellectual property can be a major defining characteristic of a sports team, a website or an app. Business owners may consult with an intellectual property attorney about how to protect their copyrights and trademarks against infringement or misuse.