(Reuters) - East Carolina University (ECU) has filed a lawsuit against Cisco Systems Inc over the use of its registered trademark "Tomorrow Starts Here", which is central to the network equipment company's new marketing campaign.
The U.S. university said on Friday that it is seeking damages for unauthorized use of the trademark, which it said is "a university-wide brand that represents an overlapping field of goods and services when compared with that of Cisco".
"ECU has used the mark 'Tomorrow Starts Here' for over a decade, including in national advertisements and publications such as Forbes and Wired," Chancellor Steve Ballard said in a statement.
A Cisco spokeswoman said the complaint came as a surprise.
"Cisco takes intellectual property rights very seriously, and we are confident that our new campaign does not create any confusion in the marketplace," she said in an email.
Cisco kicked off a $100 million marketing campaign using the slogan on December 10 in an effort to position itself as a broader information technology company as it seeks to expand its software and services offerings.
"Tomorrow Starts Here is our new tagline, we're going to have a global integrated campaign with print and television advertising, a lot of digital marketing, social media, public relations, a whole integrated approach to this," Cisco's brand chief Blair Christie told TheStreet.com last month.
Cisco had previously used the tagline "The human network".
(Reporting by Nicola Leske in New York; Editing by Dale Hudson)