It’s the gunfight in the mascot corral.
Oklahoma State University has drawn its six shooters in a battle to protect the university’s orange-clad mascot, Pistol Pete, against Pete’s younger brother, New Mexico State University’s maroon-clad Pistol Pete.
OSU has filed a trademark infringement suit against New Mexico State University in federal court. The university claims New Mexico State University’s fanciful depiction of a cowboy character in chaps, known as Pistol Pete or the Classic Aggie, resembles too closely OSU’s Pistol Pete.
New Mexico State University rebranded its logo to Lasso Larry in 2006. In 2007, NMSU changed its logo again to a cowboy holding two six-shooters. OSU’s lawsuit focuses on the Classic Aggie image, which has been revived for a Classic Aggie collection.
OSU sent a letter to NMSU officials requesting they stop using the Classic Aggie image before filing the federal suit Monday in Oklahoma City.
Pistol Pete has been Oklahoma State’s mascot for more than 80 years. New Mexico State University adopted its Pete-like mascot in the mid-1960s. NMSU initially paid royalties to Oklahoma State University which owned the rights to the logo caricature and had the blessings of the Frank Eaton estate.
Eaton was a real western gunman from the late 1800s. Eaton, who was known for his prowess with a six-shooter, lived in Payne County, but has ties to New Mexico. Legend has it that Eaton killed the last of the six men responsible for his father’s murder in 1881 in Albuquerque, N.M.
OSU released this statement regarding the lawsuit.
“Oklahoma State University owns incontestable federal trademark registrations for its Pistol Pete marks. Based on Stillwater-area, real-life lawman Frank Eaton, the Pistol Pete mascot originated from Oklahoma State University in the 1920s and is well-known nationally.
“For more than 80 years, Oklahoma State has continuously used marks depicting Pistol Pete. The university is strongly opposed to any effort to infringe upon its trademarks and will take the necessary steps to protects its rights to the Pistol Pete marks.”
New Mexico State University also issued a statement. It reads:
“We have just learned that OSU has filed a lawsuit claiming it has exclusive rights to the character that some call Pistol Pete and which we here at NMSU call Classic Aggie. The basic character has served as mascots for both schools – OSU and NMSU – for many decades.
“We were surprised that OSU took this step, but are in communication with its legal and academic representatives and are confident that good sense will prevail and that this court action will lead to an agreement that will allow both schools to carry on their respective uses of the characters that are part of their academic and athletic traditions.”
The University of Wyoming in Laramie also uses a mascot that favors OSU’s Pistol Pete.
According to the federal lawsuit, OSU and the University of Wyoming signed an agreement on Jan. 20, 1993, that allows the University of Wyoming to use its version of the bowlegged cowpoke.