When the Texas Longhorns introduced Shaka Smart as the basketball head coach last week, Smart notably declined to mention the word "Havoc" once in his press conference, but the school is now attempting to register the trademarks to two related phrases -- "Horns Havoc" and "House of Havoc."
However, there could be opposition from Smart's former program, the VCU Rams, which holds the trademark to the phrase, "Havoc," which Smart used there to describe his aggressive, pressure-oriented approach to basketball. VCU believes it holds the rights to "Havoc" and associated phrases:
VCU officials say the ownership of the "Havoc" trademark is clear. "It is my understanding that trademark rights come through use, not registration, which means that VCU owns the rights that have developed in its use of Havoc in connection with our athletics program," said Pamela D. Lepley, vice president for university relations at VCU.
While it's true that Smart brought "Havoc" to Austin as his system, Texas filed the trademark for itself and not for Smart. But VCU also filed its own trademark in Virginia and not with the federal trademark office, so it's not clear whether the school can keep another entity outside the state from trademarking similar phrases.
It also remains to be seen whether the Rams will oppose the trademark, which could lead to a legal battle or, at the least, negotiations between the two schools about compensation.
So when Smart and the Horns take the court next fall, the intention will be to create havoc, but the school may not be able to brand Smart's approach as such.