In college football, there are specific factors that define a team’s identity. The team colors, the uniforms, the coaching staff, the plays executed, the rankings, the stadium, the conference affiliation, the presence, the culture, the brand. All of which makes up what they are known for when you hear the team name. For two schools in particular, their identity is known by one thing: the USC logo.
While Oregon changes their uniforms more than a millennial changes their profile picture, Alabama is well-known for their uniform…uniforms. The Crimson Tide appearance has changed very little over the past century of football, with their basic helmets and jerseys. And while their classic look has not fared well with recruits from the current attention-obsessed generation, I’m sure Nick Saban would agree that Alabama’s trophy case certainly isn’t lined with their unis.
Speaking of National Champions, the Clemson Tigers have one of the most recognizable logos in college football, the Tiger Paw. In fact, the logo is not only trademarked, but it comes with very strict rules for use, including:
- It must be tilted to one o’clock.
- If it’s reproduced, it must be in either white (Fort Hill) or Clemson Orange.
- When used in gray as a background element, no type or other graphics can be placed on top of it.
- If printed in black and white, the Paw should be outlined with a fine black line, providing the Tiger Paw with a white background. Any other variations must be approved in advance by Trademarks and Licensing Office.
- Registration ® mark must always be used.
No pressure, right? Which brings me to the other well-known university in South Carolina: The University of South Carolina.
The Gamecocks. The USC, as it is known within the state and the greater part of the Southeast, especially within the Southeastern Conference itself. However, there is that other USC…on the other coast. The University of Southern California. The USC logo has been under fire for several years between the two schools. It has even made it all the way to court to battle it out.
“Who’s on First?”
The University of South Carolina. USC. The University of Southern California. USC.
Let me just point out here, that both schools agreed in 1982 that each could use “USC” as a logo.
However, in 2008, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ruled in favor of the University of Southern California after a six-year dispute over the use of the “SC” logo. The use of the acronym on the South Carolina Gamecocks baseball team uniforms was the focal point of the case. In a 90-page ruling, it was outlined that Southern California had used the interlocking “SC” logo for a longer, continuous time. While Southern Cal had adopted its logo “no later” than 1967, South Carolina seemed to have abandoned its “SC” logo in 1982. The patent office also pointed out that South Carolina used different versions of the interlocking logo before adopting it again in 1997. Thus, ruling in favor of the West coast.
South Carolina put up a fight. It argued that its use of “SC” not only represented university, but the entire state, not to mention that its use predated the Revolutionary War. Unfortunately, the patent office relied on the actual registration of the logo.
According to the ruling in 2008, it also found that if both schools kept using the “SC” logo, even though they were located on two different coasts, it would still cause a state of confusion. “Comparing the marks in terms of sound, we find that the marks are identical. Both would be pronounced as ‘SC,’” the ruling read. “Consumers encountering the marks for the first time might as well assume that both logos are different forms of ‘SC’ used by the same school.”
Fast forward a couple years to 2010, where a federal appeals court rejected the petition from the East Coast USC to use the acronym on the baseball team clothing for the USC Gamecocks. South Carolina again argued on the basis of confusion between the two schools if they both used the logo. A panel of three judges of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit upheld a decision by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office review board to recognize the University of Southern California’s century-old claim to the logo letters. According to the subsequent ruling, it gave little weight to the argument because the schools were located on separate coasts and in different athletic conferences and, as a result, there had not been “any significant opportunity for actual confusion to have occurred.”
I don’t know about you, but I’m officially renaming USC as the University of Some Confusion.
Of Mice and Mental Exhaustion
On January 9th, South Carolina unveiled the new logo on its Twitter account. The “new year, new me” logo now includes the word “of”. In an article on reaction to the new logo, The Post and Courier said, “The focal point of the University of South Carolina’s new logo is not a palmetto tree, a stylized silhouette of the campus’s historic Horseshoe, or even a ferocious fighting gamecock. It’s the word ‘of.’” And wait…aren’t both schools technically UofSC? Needless to say, it did not go over well with fans, including yours truly.
— Beat Clemson (@BeatClem) January 9, 2019
You need to ask for a refund pic.twitter.com/kI6guENGc1
— Irving Snerd (@RonaldR71639834) January 11, 2019
BEND THE KNEE😈
— Barstool SC (@BarstoolSC) January 10, 2019
Hail Thee Carolina
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