Maryland's Mount St. Mary's University (MSMU) has filed a lawsuit against newly renamed Mount St. Mary's University of Los Angeles (MSMULA) for trademark infringement, Jacqueline Thomsen reports for Inside Higher Ed.
The two institutions coexisted peacefully for years—until MSMULA changed its name from Mount St. Mary's College in January. According to a statement, the Los Angeles-based MSMU "was never given authorization by MSMU to use Mount St. Mary's University, Mount Saint Mary's University, The Mount, and MSMU in connection with educational services."
MSMU claims that "market confusion" has resulted from the California school's name change. "We just want to make sure in the market that when someone's looking for Mount St. Mary's University, they're getting the right Mount St. Mary's," said Christian Kendzierski, an MSMU spokesperson.
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A spokesperson from MSMULA said the school was reviewing the lawsuit with its lawyers and otherwise had no comment.
Source of confusion
Thomsen notes that it is not unusual for two schools to share a name. "A simple Google search of 'Concordia College' or 'Concordia University,' one of the more popular college names, reveals a list of more than half a dozen independent institutions," she writes.
However, Bob Johnson, a higher education marketing consultant, says the similar names could be an issue if a school wanted to raise its national profile. "In that case, it's better for either one of them right now if only one of them had the name." He also said that name confusion could be an issue if both schools offered online programs (Thomsen, Inside Higher Ed, 6/23).
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