United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
ST. LOUIS UNIVERSITY, Plaintiff,
MICHAEL TODD RICE, M.D. and MANDY RICE, D.O., Defendants.
OPINION, MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
EDWARD AUTREY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on Plaintiff's Motion for
Temporary Restraining Order [Doc. No. 4]. A hearing on the
motion was held on September 14, 2017, at which counsel for
the parties appeared. For the following reasons, the motion
will be denied.
filed this action alleging dilution of its trademarks and
service marks under 15 U.S.C. § 1125(c) and Mo.Rev.Stat.
§ 417.061, cyberpiracy under 15 U.S.C. § 1125(d),
and misuse of a benevolent society's name under Mo.Rev.
Stat. § 417.150.1.
Complaint alleges the following:
Plaintiff (“SLU”) is an institution of higher
education of longstanding duration in St. Louis, Missouri. It
is highly regarded by persons and businesses throughout St.
Louis, has thousands of alumni, and it enjoys an exceptional
reputation both locally and nationally.
educational institution and a brand, SLU has become highly
recognizable, particularly in the United States by its name
of incorporation (St. Louis University, in use since 1832),
its brand name (Saint Louis University, in use since 1832)
and its official abbreviated name (SLU, in use since 1950).
Several of its marks are registered in the United States
Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”), including
SAINT LOUIS UNIVERSITY (No. 1, 729, 449, issued November 3,
1992) and SLU (No. 1, 731, 196, issued November 10, 1992),
for use in connection with educational services (among other
goods and services as well).
many decades, SLU has been using the ST. LOUIS UNIVERSITY,
SAINT LOUIS UNIVERSITY and SLU names and marks (collectively,
the “SLU Marks” or the “Marks”) in
the marketing and promotion of its educational services,
including on its website, including the homepage
other things, SLU's website devotes multiple pages to its
Office of University Compliance
which is responsible for University policies and regulatory
offers undergraduate, graduate, and professional programs,
including a doctoral medicine (M.D.) program at St. Louis
University School of Medicine (the “School of
Medicine”). In addition to training future physicians
in its four-year M.D. degree program, the School of Medicine
also sponsors postgraduate and residency programs for medical
school graduates. All of the School of Medicine's
residency programs are approved and accredited by the
Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education. SLU
owns a registration for the mark SLUCARE, issued by the USPTO
on February 18, 1997, for use in connection with the
provision of medical care.
Mandy Rice, D.O., is a resident in the surgery program at the
School of Medicine. She is also the plaintiff in a civil
lawsuit filed in St. Louis City Circuit Court arising out of
the decision of her program's leadership that Mandy would
have to repeat the fourth year of her surgical residency
rather than being promoted to her fifth year of residency
with the rest of her class, in which she seeks damages in
excess of $25, 000 against SLU.
after Defendant Mandy Rice filed her lawsuit, SLU learned of
the existence of a website titled “St. Louis University
School of Medicine Compliance Project (SLUCP)” at
slucomplianceproject.org (“Website”). Plaintiff
alleges that the Website uses the SLU Marks extensively,
including in its domain name along with non-identifying
terminology, in an apparent attempt to confuse internet users
who may be searching for SLU or its Office of University
Compliance and to draw their attention away from SLU's
educational services and provision of medical care to the
issues of Mandy Rice's lawsuit and the Website
authors' own “educational” services regarding
a competing opinion on “compliance, ” all for
Mandy Rice's personal gain.
also learned of a Facebook page named “St. Louis
University Compliance Project (SLUCP), ” which can be
found at www.facebook.com/ slucomplianceproject, and
which also allegedly uses the SLU Marks extensively,
including in the page ID (“Facebook Page”) and
also appears to be an attempt to “educate”
persons searching the Internet for SLU or its Office of
University Compliance as to the authors' own views as
opposed to the educational services and/or provision of
medical care offered by SLU.
believes the Website and Facebook Page are operated by
Defendant Michael Todd Rice, with content supplied by or