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  • Writer's pictureDavid Baker

Penn State Fights to Preserve Its Trademarks

Last summer, Penn State University filed suit against (now) 80-year-old Paul L. Parshall of Naples, Florida, who has suffered two strokes and does not travel, but who has been using the trademarks "PENN STATE" and "NITTANY" in relation to selling beer and cigars (among other things). The problem? He doesn't have a license or an permission from the university to do so.

In a joint report filed with the District Court last week, the university contends “Parshall’s infringement is willful and his intent is to profit off the fame of Penn State’s marks and its valuable reputation" and is seeking an injunction to stop Parshall using the marks without authorization. It is also seeking up to $2 million for each trademark willfully counterfeited and infringed.

Parshall counters by arguing that Penn State sells neither beer nor cigars and a number of businesses use "Penn State" or "Nittany" in their names. Parshall has been using the names "PENN STATE NITTANY BREWING," "PENN STATE NITTANY CIGARS, and "PENN STATE NITTANY BEER."

For those who attended other colleges and universities, "Nittany" is a reference to Mount Nittany, a local prominence in University Park, Pennsylvania where Penn State University is located. It also refers to a gremlin that is rumored to inhabit the mountain. Perhaps the gremlin is responsible for Parshall's actions.

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