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The University of Rochester, in Rochester, N.Y., is suing the newly minted Rochester University, in Rochester Hills, Mich., for trademark infringement. 

In the lawsuit, filed in federal court last week, the University of Rochester claims that the Michigan institution has damaged its brand, confused prospective applicants and profited off its reputation, and it is demanding that Rochester University pay it three times what it has allegedly earned by using its name.

“University of Rochester has worked tirelessly to build a reputation as a world-class educational and medical institution, and Rochester University is trading on that goodwill, to the detriment of the students and employees of the University of Rochester and the public,” the lawsuit reads.

Both are private four-year institutions. UR is a research-focused university with a student population of around 12,000 and a 41 percent acceptance rate; Rochester University is a Christian liberal arts institution enrolling about 1,200 students, both in person and online, with an acceptance rate of nearly 99 percent.

Formerly Rochester College and originally North Central Christian College, Rochester University adopted its current name in 2019 when it decided to rebrand as a university in order to achieve greater brand awareness, according to a strategic plan that accompanied the name-change announcement.

It’s a move that has become more common in recent years, and one that often accompanies little material or strategic change for the institution beyond an assumption of greater prestige.

Other institutions have been sued for adopting names too similar to those already in use. The University of Houston filed a similar trademark infringement lawsuit in 2016 after South Texas College of Law changed its name to the Houston College of Law, which UH claimed was too similar to its own law school’s. The eventual settlement stipulated that Houston College of Law revert back to its original name.