Ohio State University sues Horseshoe Cincinnati Casino over Trademark

Ohio State University has launched a trademark lawsuit against the Horseshoe Cincinnati casino over their use of the term “The Shoe.”

Ohio Stadium is commonly referred to as The Shoe because it’s in the shape of a horseshoe. So the university trademarked the term in 2006 and has put The Shoe “on various articles of clothing, toy collectibles, photographs and artwork since at least as early as 1996,” according to their court filing.

Horseshoe Cincinnati has since tried to trademark The Shoe for their concert venue. Filed in 2013, the trademark has not gone through yet, and Ohio State argues that the two institutions are too close (2 hours apart) to both market the same term. Furthermore, the university has asked the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to block the trademark attempt because they and Horseshoe Cincinnati are direct competitors.

According to the Columbus Dispatch, both Ohio State and the casino property hold premier concert events. Horseshoe Cincinnati has hosted Willie Nelson, Earth Wind & Fire, Chicago, Alice Cooper, Huey Lewis & the News, while Ohio Stadium “has also hosted musical performances since at least as early as 1988 … including the Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Genesis and Billy Joel.”

The casino is owned by Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert and Caesars Entertainment Corp., and they plan to respond to the lawsuit by the middle of December.

Ohio State University is very experienced in the trademark business since they’ve reserved the name Brutus, the block “O” logo, and trademarks for both “Urban Meyer” and “Urban Meyer knows.” The latter two phrases, which allude to their famed football coach, are used to prevent other companies from stamping Urban Meyer’s name on hats, t-shirts and other clothing.

As for Horseshoe Cincinnati, this is just the latest headache for the casino since its opening in 2013. Throughout much of the year, Horseshoe Cincinnati has dealt with rumors that Caesars Entertainment is on the verge of bankruptcy. Despite generating $8.6 billion in revenue last year, Las Vegas-based Caesars lost $3.5 billion in 2014 and must pay $2 billion in annual interest payments.

What’s more is that the Cincinnati casino is failing to live up to the lofty revenue projections set before it. However, if Horseshoe Cincinnati does get into financial trouble, at least they can call on majority owner Gilbert’s funding since the businessman is worth $4.5 billion.