Another Battle Brewing for the Buckeyes. This Time, It’s Not Ohio State Football – It’s Ohio State Intellectual Property

The Ohio State University licenses and markets many items using the trademarks "scarlet and gray," "Buckeye(s)," "Brutus Buckeye," the Block O with or without Buckeye Leaves, "Go Bucks," and the "Buckeye Leaf" decal, which has been placed on Ohio State football helmets for more than 40 years. Currently, Ohio State's licensing program is the most profitable collegiate licensing program in the United States, with approximately 500 licensees and generating royalties of more than $35 million.

On June 1st, Ohio State filed a trademark infringement action against Touchdown Alabama Magazine, LLC. Touchdown Magazine publishes a magazine/program devoted exclusively to Ohio State football and entitled "Touchdown Buckeyes Magazine." The magazine is marketed at defendant's website, touchdownbuckeyes.net, where subscriptions are available for purchase. Ohio State publishes its own football program for distribution and sale at home football games. It also publishes ohiostatebuckeyes.com, which is "The Official Website of Ohio State University Athletics" and features the Ohio State trademarks throughout.

According to Ohio State's complaint:

... the Infringing Publication will contain many other uses of other Ohio State trademarks, trade dress and content that is competitive with Ohio State's athletics publications. According to a press release issued on April 12, 2011, "Touchdown Buckeyes Magazine will release its first print edition on Aug. 25. The magazine will continue to release seven issues throughout the 2011 football season along with a bonus Special Edition issue that will cover "The Game" at Michigan. The full color glossy magazine will be distributed in Cincinnati, Cleveland and Columbus. The magazine caters strictly to Buckeye football lovers with "Catching Up With" segments, exclusive pieces, player spotlights, "Pro Connections" articles, Q and A segments, "Recruiting" information, team rosters and Big 10 news pieces."  ...

....

The Infringing Website employs the trademark "Buckeye" in the domain name and throughout the pages of the website, and contains many other uses of Ohio State Trademarks, including:

a)     The word "Buckeye" in large block letters similar to the font type used by Ohio State and in Ohio State's school colors of scarlet and gray;

b)    A photograph of Ohio Stadium with the marching band forming the Script Ohio and also using Ohio State's school colors of scarlet and gray;

c)     A reference to "exclusive online content" available to website subscribers, including "recruiting updates & analysis - player & coach interviews - pregame previews - postgame analysis"; and

d)    Numerous photographs and videos depicting current and former Ohio State varsity athletes in competition.

Ohio State is asserting several claims, including statutory/common law trademark infringement, unfair competition and passing off, and cybersquatting. Ohio State is also seeking injunctive relief.

Besides the legal issues involved, the complaint also presents an interesting history on Ohio State and its traditions/trademarks.

View or download the entire complaint filed in The Ohio State University v. The Touchdown Alabama Magazine, LLC, et al., 11-cv-00472 (S.D. OH June 1, 2011)

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