The liberal arts college south of Indianapolis filed a lawsuit today alleging trademark infringement against Ohio-based Franklin University, which will open a campus in Castleton this fall.
Franklin University has run a heavy advertising campaign to mark its entrance into Indianapolis. But Franklin College said the marketing blitz has been too close to Franklin College’s own branding.
“For us, it’s a very practical matter,” Franklin College President Jay Moseley said in a statement. “They are implementing an aggressive advertising plan that is causing substantial confusion. It is important that we get this issue resolved.”
Moseley said that since Franklin University’s advertising began in May, Franklin College has received many calls, comments and e-mail messages asking why the school has changed its name or whether it has opened a satellite office for online courses. He also complained that the colors and clock tower in some Franklin University ads are strikingly similar to Franklin College’s logo.
“We have great concerns about the impact of the obvious confusion, especially with prospective students and employers of our alumni,” Moseley stated.
The two schools have different missions. Franklin College enrolls primarily students aged 18 to 22, nearly all of whom reside on its campus in Franklin. The school has about 1,000 students.
But Franklin University enrolls primarily working adults, whose average age is over 30. Many of its courses are taught online, although the Castleton campus will have 20,000 square feet of space in an office building.
Indianapolis is the first new U.S. market for Franklin University, which plans to expand in the Midwest and even in other countries. The school has about 11,000 students.
In an interview in June, Linda Steele, vice president of marketing for Franklin University, said the school never considered operating under a different name than Franklin in Indianapolis.
"The Franklin College issue came up and we really did have to take a step back and ask the question whether that is a showstopper," Steele said. "Obviously, we think not, because we chose to go forward."
Franklin University officials could not be reached immediately to comment on the lawsuit. It was filed in U.S. District Court in Indianapolis.