Men's Basketball

Texas officials back off ‘Havoc,’ a hallmark for Smart

VCU retains rights to trademark after Texas abandons its requests.

Posted May 5th, 2015

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Richmond will indeed remain the home of “Havoc.”

Virginia Commonwealth officials were aghast last month when it was learned that the University of Texas System Board of Regents had filed federal trademark requests for use of the phrases “Horns Havoc” and “House of Havoc.”

Now, those two trademark requests have been “abandoned,” according to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

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“We filed to protect the brand initially and decided not to use them,” Texas spokesman Nick Voinis said Monday.

VCU spokesman Pamela Lepley said her school’s general counsel’s office “had productive conversations with her counterpart at UT over the past few weeks.”

VCU officials believe “Havoc” is too closely identified with their men’s basketball team, previously led by coach Shaka Smart, who is now at Texas. “That helped us in recruiting, helped us with fans, and it gave us an identity,” Smart told the American-Statesman in April.

New VCU coach Will Wade, who replaced Smart, said at his introductory press conference,”And just so y’all know, Havoc still lives here.”

Legally, VCU holds the “Havoc” trademark request only on the state level. A Richmond-based attorney told the Statesman in April that UT would probably lose a court battle if VCU defended its mark. Courts have ruled that prior use is a determining factor in who holds the trademark.

“If you search Twitter for that in March, all you hear about is VCU basketball,” said Ben Pace, who works for a Richmond firm that does not represent VCU.

Though they abandoned the request, Texas officials could still submit another request down the road. The school is still pursuing a trademark request for the phrase “Strong and Smart” for marketing purposes.

Smart himself seemed leery of using “Havoc” to describe what will happen at Texas. The Longhorns have quick, athletic guards such as Isaiah Taylor, Demarcus Holland and Kendal Yancy returning. But having big men such as 6-foot-9 center Cam Ridley and 6-10 center Prince Ibeh will be a change for Smart, who usually had players around 6-5.

“It took us time at VCU, and it really wasn’t until my third year there that we were fully doing the things defensively that people associated with that word,” Smart said. “Certainly, it will take some time here as well.”

Contact Brian Davis at 512-445-3957.

Twitter: @BDavisAAS

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