USC Gamecocks/Trojans: Using Pathos to Dispute Logos

Drew HarkinsContributor ISeptember 10, 2008

Recently, the University of Southern California defeated the University of South Carolina in a trademark dispute over the interlocking "SC" logo incorporated by South Carolina's athletic programs.

The six-year battle over the logo culminated in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office ruling in favor of the Trojans on the basis of having a longer established trademark.

This is big news for people who cannot differentiate between the states of California and South Carolina.

The future of the "descending" SC, rumored to have been designed by baseball coach Ray Tanner and also worn by the Gamecocks' softball team, is now up in the air.

Despite evidence of the logo's earliest inceptions predating the Revolutionary War and continuing as a symbol for the state and its flagship university (and...ahem...competing in the toughest division in the toughest football conference in America), South Carolina no longer has legal basis to compete with Southern Cal.

As such, the branding woes continue for ol' Carolina.  While Clemson continues to paint its corner of God's Country with cleanly designed tiger paws and offensive orange hues, garnet and black faithful have long suffered the "Block C" logo, an insipid varsity letter with a muddled chicken in the center.

Many sports franchises have experienced popularity surges after uniform redesigns, and it had long been hoped by many fans that more of the university's sports teams would adopt the interlocking logo.

Alas, the ruling read, "Consumers encountering the marks for the first time might well assume that both logos are different forms of ‘SC’ used by the same school.”  Though victorious in the case, the Trojans are exposed for failing to heed one of the tenets of branding, which is to at least consider the consumer as a person.

Seeing as the two schools compete in different athletic conferences across the country and have wildly divergent demographic bases, among other glaring differences, the ruling insults the allegiance and intelligence of the fans and leaves one wondering just how many California marketing gurus were present at the proceedings.

It could very well be likely that merchandising revenue will plummet as stoned surfer bros quit mistaking Carolina's colors for the Trojans' cardinal and gold when purchasing caps at the La Brea Foot Locker.

On the bright side, it is highly unlikely, however, that many will fail to recognize the delight of assorted "Cocks" paraphernalia for what it is: a deliciously gauche and smarmy insinuation of the university's virility.

The ruling is unfortunate, but our mascot is still an outlaw prizefighter, and we have yet another opportunity to rebrand.

This court battle has had the temerity of a catfight between two sisters over the rights to wear resembling blouses.  The sisters, whom we'll refer to as "Martha" and "Jen," are wildly different yet idiosyncratic, each with their unique charms.

Martha is the golden child of the family, lithe, buxom, and bleach blonde.  Confident and pretty, she drinks appletinis and shops at Nordstrom.  Her ideal boyfriend is Matt Leinart.

Jen, who favors her sister from the waist down, is a brassy, sandy brunette who prefers form-fitting tube tops.  Socially, she's on the precipice of the popular crowd, having been known to put back a few Busch beers on the weekends.  She buys clothes at Belk's and would love to score a hot date with Stephen Garcia.

When Jen finally has the gall to upstage her sister by arriving at the party in a custom number, replete with designer flourish and detail, Martha decides to invoke martial law and protests her case to a court of peers: "But, I wear it better!  People like me more!"  Oh, Martha.  You doth protest too much, methinks.

Despite its status as a merchandising juggernaut, boasting countless national championships in multiple sports and having a media market share rivaled only by Notre Dame, the University of Southern California has gone for the little guy's jugular.

It's a shame, as the little guy represents a small state in an economically disadvantaged region, deep with pride and long in tradition.

Let us have our day in the sun, Martha, because Lord knows if Spurrier will ever bring it.