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Judge bats back 'Hokie' motions in Blacksburg lawsuit

Judge bats back 'Hokie' motions in Blacksburg lawsuit

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A Blacksburg real estate company may continue to use the term "Hokie" in its name, for now, but the trademark infringement case filed against it by Virginia Tech will go on, a federal judge ruled Tuesday.

Judge Glen Conrad denied Hokie Real Estate's claim that Tech's lawsuit against it should be dismissed, and Conrad further ruled on Tech's motion for a temporary injunction against the use of the word "Hokie" by the company.

In the judge's order, Conrad opined that because Tech has not yet proved that the university is suffering "irreparable harm" by the use of the term "Hokie" by the defendant and because an injunction would harm the real estate company's business, an injunction would not be granted at this stage in the suit.

Tech filed the trademark infringement claim Oct. 18 in the U.S. District Court for Western Virginia against John Wilburn, a Tech alumnus and owner of Hokie Real Estate Inc.

The filing alleges that Wilburn is infringing on Tech's exclusive right to the "famous Hokies and Hokie trademarks" and asks that the company be ordered to pay Tech's legal fees and unspecified damages.

Tech owns rights to the term "Hokies," according to the U.S. Patent database. An owner for "Hokie" is not listed in the database.

A handful of companies established years ago in Blacksburg -- Hokie Spokes, Hokie House and Hokie Hair -- continue to use the "Hokie" moniker. Tech officials have said the university will not challenge those uses but that no new corporate uses of the name will be allowed.

The university turned down Wilburn's request to use the name under a licensing agreement, Tech spokesman Larry Hincker has said.

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