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Recently some have asserted on social media that the University has misrepresented the 2018 court case, OU vs. OUAA.  Rather than enter into dispute, the University is making available Federal Judge Madeline Haikala’s 59-page decision in favor of Oakwood University, for interested persons to read for themselves.
OU vs OUAA was a textbook trademark case in which the University petitioned the Court for a permanent injunction barring OUAA from infringing on the name, marks, and trademarks of Oakwood University. The single legal issue to be decided was the question “Who owns the marks, trademarks, and the name Oakwood University?”  OUAA made it clear that their organization considered the requests for compliance and cooperation with the University to be “unlawful intermeddling” (Haikala, p. 21). The University’s key request through personal appeal and legal channels was for OUAA to ‘cease and desist’ from using the name Oakwood University (see Haikala, 22-23).
On the other hand, if OUAA’s insistence that it owned rights to the name “Oakwood University” was legally correct, then the former association would legally raise funds through the continued use of the name “Oakwood University Alumni Association.”  If the University position was correct, namely that the marks, trademarks, and the name “Oakwood University” are proprietary, then OUAA would have to change its name and include the disclaimer below to its fundraising to avoid confusing donors regarding to whom their donations were made (whether the University or an independent organization with no legal obligations to the University). The disclaimer reads:
“The Original Oaks Alumni Association is an independent organization that does not represent Oakwood University. OOAA does not raise funds for Oakwood University.”
The other reason for the legal action was to achieve compliance with SACSCOC Accreditation standard 5.3 which is explained thoroughly in Judge Haikala’s explanation on page 56.
We trust that the two documents provided (the Court’s ruling, and the responding statement from the Oakwood University Board of Trustees) will dispel any misunderstanding of the difficult position your Alma Mater faced.  We invite you to continue to pray for all the parties involved in this regrettable and unnecessary dispute (per Judge Haikala, p. 57-58).