UO wants to trademark 'Track Town'

EUGENE (AP) — The University of Oregon is trying to make official what everyone here knows informally, that Eugene is "Track Town U.S.A."

The university is more than a year into the process of federally trademarking "Track Town" and "Track Town U.S.A." for use on clothing and in conjunction with events. The university and the Oregon Track Club, a nonprofit that supports track and field in Eugene, are already using the nickname to promote high-level meets to be held at Hayward Field before the return of the U.S. Olympic Track & Field Trials in 2012.

"It's not about one meet or one event," said Greg Erwin, who led the '08 Trials local organizing committee with Vin Lananna, UO director of Track & Field. "It's about a lifestyle. This is Track Town, and the constituency is broad and wide and includes just about everybody."

The application won't force businesses that use the name to change. Track Town Pizza, founded by track and field athletes and patronized heavily by UO students, has been around since 1977.

Mike Ripley, the restaurant manager, said he doesn't care if the university trademarks the name.

"More power to the UO," he said. "They're a marketing machine. I'm sure they want to throw that on billboards and to own it is a good thing."

Someone who probably does care is the creator of TrackTownUSA.com, a Web site that began providing track and field information before the 2008 Trials and also applied for the trademark, The Register-Guard newspaper reported. The Web site creator lists a P.O. Box in Walterville but no name on the trademark application or state business registration records.

The Web site applied for a trademark on August 4, 2008, about three months after the university.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office found no reason to reject the university's application during a 30-day opposition period earlier this year. If the UO is allowed to register the trademarks, the patent and trademark office will probably reject TrackTownUSA.com's application because the two trademarks would be too similar and likely cause confusion, said Anne Glazer, a trademark attorney who represents neither party.

Matt Dyste, the university's director of marketing and brand management, said the university doesn't seek federal trademark protection on all its slogans. But doing so with Track Town made sense after conversations between track, travel and university officials before the 2008 Trials.

"It became clear that we really wanted to build a real theme around Track Town," Dyste said.

"What we didn't want to have happen was to have another community to try to build their reputation around 'Track Town U.S.A.' And the trademark protection helps us around that task."

Though the university is not a town, Dyste said it's appropriate for the UO to trademark the name. He noted that Track Town U.S.A wouldn't exist without Hayward Field and the university's rich history in the sport.


Information from: The Register-Guard, http:www.registerguard.com

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