Judge tells school to change name back to South Texas College of Law
The private law school picked a new name strikingly similar to the higher-ranked University of Houston law school.
Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional comment.
At least temporarily, the former South Texas College of Law must revert to its original name after a judge said Friday that the school's effort to rebrand itself might too closely resemble the University of Houston's law school.
South Texas changed its name to the Houston College of Law in June, saying the change would "further distinguish itself regionally and nationally." But in a 42-page opinion issued Friday, U.S. District Judge Keith P. Ellison granted UH's request for a preliminary injunction to block the change.
A hearing is scheduled for Wednesday to determine how soon the former South Texas College of Law will have to change back.
UH sued in June, saying the name violated its trademarks and caused confusion. It also objected to the Houston College of Law's new logo, which features the white scales of justice in a red rectangle. UH's colors are also red and white. The university argued that similarities would likely dilute UH's brand.
This year, U.S. News and World Report ranked the UH Law Center the 50th best law school in the country. South Texas, which is a private school in downtown Houston that isn't connected to larger university, wasn't ranked, UH pointed out.
"In fact, STCL has struggled since its inception to shed its image as a 'night school," UH argued in a lawsuit.
In a statement, UH's lawyer Tony Buzbee called the injunction a "complete victory."
"The next step is for South Texas College of Law to remove their billboards, change their website, remove merchandise from stores and change their name in the American Bar Association database," said Buzbee, a prominent UH law school graduate who represented former Gov. Rick Perry in his recent criminal abuse of power case.
South Texas could still prevail in the full trial if it chooses to go forward. A school spokeswoman didn't immediately return a request for comment.
Disclosure: The University of Houston and Tony Buzbee have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.
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