The University of Houston has sued a 90-year-old downtown Houston law school that recently changed its name.
The Houston Chronicle contends that the newly renamed Houston College of Law—formerly South Texas College of Law—has willfully infringed upon the university's intellectual property.
"Through this name change and by adopting [University of Houston's] color scheme, [South Texas College of Law] is attempting to associate itself with the standing and reputation of the University of Houston System and the University of Houston Law Center," the lawsuit argues.
Before the suit was filed, the South Texas College of Law says it was sticking with plans to change its name to Houston College of Law, despite threats of a lawsuit from the university.
Leaders of the 90-year-old law school say they picked the new name to highlight its ties to its longtime home in downtown Houston. But University of Houston officials say the new name is too close to the University of Houston Law Center, its own law school in the city.
In threatening last week to take legal action if South Texas College of Law doesn't choose a different name. University of Houston officials asserted that the name change would cause confusion.
"The University of Houston Law Center has an established history of nearly 70 years in the City of Houston," the university said in a prepared statement."The University of Houston is concerned about the significant confusion this creates in the marketplace and will take any and all appropriate legal actions to protect the interests of our institution, our brand and our standing in the communities we serve."
But leaders of the newly named Houston College of Law were standing their ground.
"The board of directors and administrators of Houston College of Law came to the name change decision after thoughtful and lengthy research and input from key constituencies, including alumni, students, faculty, staff, and donors," they said in a prepared statement. "We made the decision to change the name of the 93-year-old law school based on overwhelming support to tie our institution with its birthplace in downtown Houston. We believe that we are on firm legal ground with this name change, and that we are acting in the best interest of the law school and its students."
When South Texas College announced the name change last week, Board Chairman Ken Johnson said it was important to create a stronger association between the law school and the nation’s fourth-largest city.
“The school has been an integral part of downtown Houston for almost a century,” Johnson said. “Our students are within walking distance of some of the nation’s biggest law firms and the city’s courthouses are in our back yard. With our diverse student body that mirrors Houston’s population, we will remain dedicated to educating future generations of attorneys.”