Cisco sued by university over 'Tomorrow Starts Here' slogan

East Carolina University claims it has registered the trademark

Cisco Systems has been sued in a federal court by East Carolina University (ECU) for the "Tomorrow Starts Here" tagline it adopted in December.

ECU in Greenville, North Carolina, has used the mark 'Tomorrow Starts Here' for over a decade, including in national advertisements and publications, it said in a statement Friday. "We feel it is essential to take action to protect that defining trademark of our identity and vision," university chancellor Steve Ballard said in the statement.

The university's complaint alleges that Cisco's use of the identical mark infringes both its federally registered and common law trademark rights.

Apparently to emphasize that Cisco's and the university's use of the trademark could confuse the consumer, ECU said that trademark "Tomorrow Starts Here" is a university-wide brand that "represents an overlapping field of goods and services when compared with that of Cisco."

Research initiatives through ECU's College of Technology and Computer Science, for example, have created products and intellectual property that are actively being commercialized, the university said. ECU also said it promotes its global online education program using the mark "Tomorrow Starts Here."

Cisco could not be immediately reached for comment. The company said in December it launched a campaign with the "Tomorrow Starts Here" slogan to showcase how Cisco makes "amazing things happen" when it connects the unconnected, using new IP-enabled devices, more broadband access, and IPv6, the next version of the Internet protocol. 99 percent of things in the physical world are still unconnected, it said.

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John Ribeiro

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