Judge halts South Texas College of Law name change

UPDATE: Houston College of Law, formerly South Texas College of Law, will get a third — and hopefully final — name this year. The private school agreed to change its name by Nov. 4 to avoid going to trial in a federal trademark suit brought by University of Houston Law Center. The new name will honor a benefactor and include the word "Houston" at the end, an attorney said.

ORIGINAL: The law school formerly called South Texas College of Law is back, at least for a while.

This summer, the Houston-based law school had changed its name to Houston College of Law in an attempt to transform its brand and bring increased awareness to its location.

But, the higher-ranked University of Houston Law Center sued, saying the change in the name and color scheme brought confusion, and that South Texas College of Law was marketing itself on its neighbor’s success. 

A federal judge granted a temporary injunction last week in the trademark infringement suit. The name change has in fact created confusion and caused a “substantial threat of irreparable injury” to the University of Houston Law Center, said U.S. District Judge Keith Ellison. 

The preliminary injunction means the court believed there was a substantial likelihood of UH prevailing in the case. 

"We were stunned that this would be the outcome," Donald J. Guter, dean of the 93-year-old private law school, told the Houston Chronicle. "It's not the opinion we were expecting. We were confident we had the law on our side."

South Texas College of Law had marketed its new name on billboards and in advertisements proclaiming: “Introducing our brand new, 93-year-old law school.” The school’s URL remains stcl.com. 

"The evidence showed overwhelmingly that the name change caused confusion in the marketplace," said Tony Buzbee, principal of The Buzbee Law Firm, which is representing UH as lead counsel. "This is a complete victory for the University of Houston and the UH Law Center."