LAS CRUCES (KRQE) – A powerhouse college is suing New Mexico State University, claiming the Aggies have plagiarized their mascot. The suit claims it is “confusingly similar” to its own and includes an image of Pistol Pete that NMSU has used in the past when it first adopted the mascot in the ’60s.
Oklahoma State University said it had the mascot first and trademarked it, then New Mexico State copied it. The university filed a lawsuit against NMSU in federal court on Monday.
NMSU said it initially paid royalties to OSU when it claimed Pistol Pete as its mascot about 50 years ago. OSU said it has had the mascot since the 1920s.
In the lawsuit, Oklahoma claims NMSU’s mascot image is “likely to cause confusion” and that it asked NMSU to “cease and desist from its infringement, but it has failed and refused to do so.”
NMSU said the suit came as a surprise, and students agree.
“I think it’s petty to be honest,” said Chelsae Keyes.
In a statement, NMSU officials said they are confident the schools will come to an agreement so they can keep using Pistol Pete. NMSU claims the suit is only referring to the older mascot image.
KRQE News 13 wanted to ask OSU about that but didn’t hear back immediately.
Pistol Pete is based on a real cowboy from the 1800s named Frank Eaton. He got his nickname practicing his shooting skills in Oklahoma and is said to have won a legendary gunfight later in Albuquerque.
OSU released the following statement:
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 protect its rights to the Pistol Pete marks.
NMSU released the following statement:
We have just learned that OSU has filed a lawsuit claiming it has exclusive rights to the character 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 characters that are part of their academic and athletic traditions.