Va. Tech sues alumnus for 'Hokie' business
In an unusual defense of a collegiate trademark, Virginia Tech has filed suit against a Blacksburg real estate agent for appropriating its official nickname in the title of Hokie Real Estate Inc.
According to an account in the Roanoke Times, Tech filed a claim of trademark infringement Oct. 18 in federal court against John Wilburn, the above-referenced Hokie, a Tech alumnus.
According to the Roanoke Times article, Tech accuses Wilburn of violating the university's exclusive claim to the "famous Hokies and Hokie trademarks" and seeks unspecified damages. The filing says Tech made $1.6 million in 2009 from sales of licensed products and services.
Wilburn's attorney, James Creekmore, told the Times "that the university never registered the term with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and long ago gave up rights to the word 'Hokie,' " the article states.
Tech spokesman Larry Hincker told the Times: "We clearly created that term. The term 'Hokie' has no meaning outside the Virginia Tech environment. It's clearly unique to us and any value was created by us."
The attorney countered that several area businesses already use the name with impunity, including Hokie House, Hokie Hair and Hokie Spokes.
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Daniel de Vise
| October 29, 2010; 2:50 PM ET
Categories: Administration, Litigation, Marketing | Tags: Hokie lawsuit, VT Hokie lawsuit, Virginia Tech
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