Lubbock Christian University, Louisiana school battle over LCU trademark in federal court

LCU lawsuit -- two logos side by side as they appear in court records.

Since July, Lubbock Christian University has been in a legal fight over its initials, LCU.  Louisiana College sued Lubbock Christian in federal court – seeking the right to use the acronym LCU despite a registered trademark held by the university in Lubbock.   

Louisiana College recently began to call itself Louisiana Christian University, court records said, and with it, the letters LCU. 

An attorney for the Louisiana-based college declined to comment. The university in Lubbock, however, agreed to provide a statement to Lubbock Lights.  

In December 2022, Dr. Scott McDowell, the president of Lubbock Christian wrote a letter to Dr. Rick Brewer, president of the school in Pineville, Louisiana. McDowell claimed the name and trademark LCU is property of Lubbock Christian University in Lubbock.    

In its lawsuit, Louisiana College did not claim Lubbock Christian University did anything wrong.  Instead, the college wants a judge to declare it’s perfectly okay if both schools use the moniker LCU at the same time.    

Lubbock Christian statement to Lubbock Lights 

In a written statement, Lubbock Christian said it began using LCU when it became a university in 1987. The school claimed it “consistently and continually” used the trade name LCU since then.  

“Lubbock Christian University’s trademark rights to the exclusive use of ‘LCU’ were formally recognized by the United States Trademark Office in May 2007,” the school said.    

LCU in Lubbock learned in the fall of 2022 that Louisiana College – approximately 75 miles from Texas – began using LCU. The letter from McDowell to Brewer was an attempt to avoid confusion.  

“… Attorneys representing the Louisiana school sent a letter to Dr. McDowell indicating that the Louisiana school would not refrain from using the LCU trademark,” Lubbock Christian said. McDowell tried again to work with the Louisiana school and its administration to “find solutions.”

“… The Louisiana school refused all solutions and compromises suggested by Lubbock Christian University,” the statement said. “While Lubbock Christian University laments the escalation of the dispute and remains willing to work with the Louisiana school to find an amicable resolution to the dispute, it reserves its rights to its trademark and will defend it appropriately,” Lubbock Christian said.     

Louisiana college makes its case  

To bolster its claim, the Louisiana school pointed out a medical company also registered the letters LCU as a federal trademark.   

Even without a federal trademark, the college found 17 different companies use the letters LCU including Life Christian University, Lincoln Christian University and Lifestyle Christian University.  

Because other companies, including universities, use LCU, Lubbock Christian University’s claim is weak, the college said in court records.  

The gravamen for a trademark violation is unfair competition caused by confusion.  

“The idea is that trademarks are ‘distinguishing’ features which lower consumer search costs and encourage higher quality production by discouraging free-riders,” the Louisiana college said in quoting a previous court case.   

The college also claimed previous cases give it the right to use LCU based on eight factors that include similarities or differences between the trademarks and whether customers are likely to be confused.   

The college argued prospective college students are sophisticated consumers and less likely to confuse LCU in Louisiana with LCU in Texas.   

Lubbock Christian University responds  

In the official court record, Lubbock Christian started with a legal technicality – personal jurisdiction.  To put that in the simplest of terms, the college had no business suing the university in a federal court in Louisiana.   

It was the Louisiana college that committed a violation, not the Lubbock-based university.  Therefore, the judge should dismiss the lawsuit, or so Lubbock Christian argued.  

The Lubbock school also pointed out the convenient timing.  On July 7, Lubbock Christian threatened to sue. On July 13, the college filed a lawsuit of its own.   

“In a race-to-the-courthouse, Louisiana College files suit for declaratory judgment after Lubbock Christian put Louisiana College on notice of its violations of its trademark,” the university said in court filings.  

“Lubbock Christian has not filed a claim for trademark infringement,” the university said. Lubbock Christian freely admitted to threatening a lawsuit but did not file one – at least, not yet.   

The one and only objective of Lubbock Christian’s plea to the federal court was the lawsuit should be thrown out on legal technicalities. Lubbock Christian made no direct defense of its trademark.   

November 30 is the due date for the next set of documents.  The lawsuit was still pending as of Tuesday.

LCU timeline

  • Fall of 1987: Lubbock Christian College becomes Lubbock Christian University and begins using the acronym LCU. 
  • May 2007: Lubbock Christian can use LCU as a federal trademark.  
  • November 2020: The university requests as renewal of LCU as a federally registered trademark.  
  • June 2021: The potential LCU trademark is published for opposition.  
  • August 2021: LCU is officially registered to Lubbock Christian University.  
  • November 2021: Louisiana Colleges files paperwork with the state to use the name Louisiana Christian University and begins to use LCU. 
  • December 2022: Lubbock Christian University writes a cease-and-desist letter to Louisiana College.  
  • July 2023: Lubbock Christian University threatens a lawsuit against Louisiana College, but instead, Louisiana College sued Lubbock Christian.  

Brief history of the two schools  

“LCU began as a kindergarten in 1954 at the Broadway Church of Christ in downtown Lubbock,” the Texas State Historical Association said online.  “After the church had established a Bible chair at Texas Tech, it decided to establish a Christian college from the ground up…”  

The original idea was to add one grade level per year, but the plan was accelerated.  In 1957, a junior college opened under the name Lubbock Christian College. In 1972, it became a senior college and then a university in 1987.   

According to its website, Lubbock Christian University began “for the purpose of preparing and equipping students for lives of Christian service.”  

Louisiana College, now doing business as Louisiana Christian University, was founded in Pineville, Louisiana on October 3, 1906, as a private Baptist college.  It was the merger of two different colleges dating back to the 1850s.    

“Built upon the principles of character and learning, the University has a tradition of outstanding academics and is the only Baptist, four-year institution in Louisiana,” the school’s website said 

Read for yourself

  • Click here to read the lawsuit Louisiana College d/b/a Louisiana Christian University
  • Click here to read the response by Lubbock Christian University
  • Click here to read the statement from Lubbock Christian to Lubbock Lights
Author: James Clark- James Clark is the associate editor of Lubbock Lights. He worked in radio, television and digital media for a combined total of more than 30 years. He was Director of Digital News Content at KAMC, KLBK and for nearly 10 years.