In 1997, the University of South Carolina (“South Carolina”) began using the interlocking “SC” logo on baseball caps. In turn, South Carolina sought to register the mark for use on clothing, hats, baseball uniforms, T-shirts, and shorts. The University of Southern California (“Southern Cal”) opposed registration of South Carolina’s mark and cited it had priority over South Carolina’s proposed mark and registration of the proposed mark would create a likelihood of confusion with Southern Cal’s preexisting “SC” marks.
The Trademark Trial and Appeals Board (“Board”) refused registration of South Carolina’s proposed mark under Section 2(d) of the Lanham Act finding that it would create a likelihood of confusion with Southern Cal’s registrations of the “SC” mark. Subsequently, the matter was appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (“Federal Circuit”). The Federal Circuit applied the DuPont factors and affirmed the decision of the Board which thereby refused registration of South Carolina’s proposed mark.
Following the Federal Circuit’s decision, South Carolina appealed the Federal Circuit’s decision to the United States Supreme Court (“Supreme Court”). On October 4, 2010, the Supreme Court announced it had denied South Carolina’s petition for writ of certiorari. As a result of the Supreme Court’s denial of review, South Carolina’s legal avenues have now been exhausted and, therefore, the South Carolina interlocking “SC” mark will not obtain federal trademark protection.