Ohio State University Has a Taste for Poultry in Trademark Dispute, Claims “O-H-I-O” Is Going to the Birds

Ohio State University Has a Taste for Poultry in Trademark Dispute, Claims “O-H-I-O” Is Going to the Birds

Trademarks once again prove the great unifier between chicken and athletics. Last August, it brought together Bo Jackson and Chick-fil-A. Now, football powerhouse Ohio State University has its trademark sights set on poultry manufacturer, Park Farms.

Yesterday, Ohio State filed a trademark complaint accusing Park Farms of the unlicensed use of the O-H-I-O cheer.  Ohio State claims common law trademarks in the distinctive use of its school colors, scarlet and gray, the capital letter "O" in block text in conjunction with the school colors, and the cheer  O-H-I-O. The complaint states:

The "O-H-I-O" cheer is associated exclusively in the minds of the public with Ohio State, a trademark of The Ohio State University. Ohio State's official website includes a page devoted to the "O-H-I-O" cheer, http://www.osu.edu/O-H-I-O/which includes more than 9800 photographs submitted by Ohio State fans all over the world doing the "O-H-I-O" cheer.

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Ohio State's use of the letters "O-H-I-O" as its trademark in connection with various activities and products has been continuous and the public now associates the letters "O-H-I-O", especially when used in scarlet and gray in conjunction with services and products affiliated, endorsed or sponsored by Ohio State.

Park Farms sells poultry products bearing gray color caricature chickens doing the O-H-I-O cheer in scarlet letters. At one time, Park Farms entered into a valid licensing agreement with Ohio State. Under the terms of that agreement, Park Farms was to pay Ohio State a negotiated amount per pound of poultry sold using the Ohio State trademarks. However, after the agreement's expiration, Park Farms continued to sell poultry products bearing the O-H-I-O cheer. Though Park Farms has refused to acknowledge Ohio State's trademark rights, Park Farms, on November 7, allegedly mailed Ohio State a check with no indication of what it represented.

Currently, Ohio State's licensing program is the most profitable collegiate licensing program in the United States. In the past five years, it has generated royalties of more than $35 million.

Related Reading:

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

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