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East Carolina sues Cisco over registered trademark

Jan. 11, 2013

ECU News Services

East Carolina University has filed a lawsuit in federal court against Cisco Systems, Inc., seeking injunctive relief and damages for the unauthorized use of ECU’s federally registered trademark “Tomorrow Starts Here.”

“ECU has used the mark ‘Tomorrow Starts Here’ for over a decade, including in national advertisements and publications such as Forbes and Wired,” said Chancellor Steve Ballard. “We feel it is essential to take action to protect that defining trademark of our identity and vision.”

In December, Cisco launched an advertising campaign using the slogan “Tomorrow Starts Here” as its centerpiece. ECU’s complaint alleges that Cisco’s use of the identical mark infringes both ECU’s federally registered and common law trademark rights.

ECU’s trademark “Tomorrow Starts Here” is a university-wide brand that represents an overlapping field of goods and services when compared with that of Cisco. For example, research initiatives through ECU’s College of Technology and Computer Science have created products and intellectual property that are actively being commercialized. ECU is also a leader in the field of distance education technology that is heavily promoted through ECU’s global online education program using the mark “Tomorrow Starts Here.”  

East Carolina University is a 105-year-old public university and research institution that is nationally recognized for its technological and software development, preparing family physicians and educators and for its strong performing arts.