Dueling Houston law schools strike deal in naming dispute through mediation


By Gabrielle Banks – Chron.com

Two crosstown Houston law schools reached a settlement Thursday in a trademark spat over the name and branding at the older institution.

After hitting an impasse in settlement talks earlier this year, the University of Houston and South Texas College of Law Houston hammered out a draft agreement after two days of mediation this week before U.S. Magistrate Judge Dena Hanovice Palermo.

Officials at both schools said they are still waiting for the UH Chancellor and the South Texas board to sign off on the deal. The schools agreed not to comment on the terms of the deal or their feelings about the nine-month detente, officials said.

The UH regents hired a team of top-tier lawyers in June after South Texas College of Law changed its name to Houston College of Law and switched to a red color scheme. UH lawyers said its law center owned the rights to the word “Houston” in an educational setting.

The hefty legal team for the private South Texas College of Law matched them toe-to-toe, arguing law students would not be confused by the two very different law schools.

But in October, U.S. District Judge Keith Ellison ruled that UH was likely to win at trial and he ordered South Texas to stop using the name starting with “Houston.”

South Texas reverted to its original name, but adding the word Houston at the end,  a revision UH officials said they approved.

It appeared the major conflicts had been resolved, and Ellison suggested the parties figure it the final details out privately. In January, the discussion halted over monetary issues and the status of various trademark applications and registrations still in play.

The law schools asked the judge to send the case to formal mediation.

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