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Saturday, February 24, 2024
Courthouse News Service
Saturday, February 24, 2024 | Back issues
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Rival Colleges Fight Over Pistol Pete

OKLAHOMA CITY (CN) - New Mexico State University is using a gun-toting cowboy mascot that's a knockoff of Oklahoma State's Pistol Pete mascot, OSU claims in Federal Court.

Pistol Pete has been Oklahoma State Cowboys teams' mascot since 1930.

Based on Old West cowboy-lawman Frank Eaton, the mustachioed mascot wears a big cowboy hat and chaps and carries two pistols.

At football games, an identically dressed mascot clad in orange and black - the school colors - totes a shotgun while roaming the sidelines.

"These marks have been used by plaintiff for over 80 years, have been the subject of extensive promotion, have been used and advertised throughout the United States, and are widely recognized by the public as being associated with plaintiff," the 8-page complaint states.

Oklahoma State claims that New Mexico State's Pistol Pete mascot is "confusingly similar to OSU's Pistol Pete marks."

OSU claims it has "extensive common law rights" to the trademark, and registered Pistol Pete with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office in 2006 and 2010.

The Oct. 20 complaint claims that the University of Wyoming signed a concurrent-use agreement with Oklahoma State in 1993, for use of Pistol Pete as its mascot.

"Subject to the terms and conditions of the UW Agreement, plaintiff has the exclusive rights to use its Pistol Pete Marks in commerce," the complaint states. And, Oklahoma State says, New Mexico State has "previously acknowledged" its rights to the Pistol Pete mark.

"Defendant either had no rights in any such mark or discontinued and abandoned such use with no intent to resume many years ago," the complaint states.

In 2005, New Mexico State shied away from Pistol Pete by introducing a cowboy mascot whirling a lasso over his head. Nicknamed "Lasso Larry" by disapproving students and alumni, the new mascot was dropped after a year.

New Mexico State officials could not be reached for comment Tuesday evening.

Oklahoma State seeks damages for trademark infringement, unfair competition and violations of the Lanham Act.

It is represented by Todd A. Nelson with Fellers Snider in Tulsa.

Follow @davejourno
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