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The communications office of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at The University of Texas at Austin provides media with timely, accurate information about the Wildflower Center. Below are recent press releases related to Center events and to staff expertise on conservation practices, native plant gardening, nature education, and native plant resources and research findings. For more information or photos beyond those on the newsroom site, please contact:

    Media Manager
Barbra Rodriguez

October16, 2013

University of Texas Statement on the Trademark for the Sustainable Sites Initiative

The University of Texas is disappointed that the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) has chosen to file a lawsuit over the trademark for the Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES).

UT has actively sought to resolve this matter more amicably and hopes this legal action doesn’t hurt the future or viability of SITES, which has already had a significant impact in promoting sustainable landscape design.

UT has never had a formal partnership or any legal agreement with ASLA, despite our efforts over the past two years to develop one.

Nonetheless, since 2006, UT has collaborated informally with ASLA (as well as the U.S.Botanic Garden) to develop the SITES program for sustainable landscape design. With the additional support and technical contributions from the U.S. Botanic Garden, that collaboration has been both productive and successful.

Because of this success — and in response to several instances of unauthorized third parties using the SITES name — UT decided to protect that name by registering the trademark for SITES early this year.

UT initially considered registering the trademark jointly with ASLA and the US Botanic Garden, but this was not feasible for a variety of legal reasons. Instead, UT sought to register the trademark in its name and then license all the rights associated with the trademark to ASLA at no cost and with no restrictions. Our intention was to grant a permanent license to ASLA that would essentially convey rights identical to the rights owned by UT. The U.S. Botanic Garden agreed to this arrangement, ASLA did not.

Instead, ASLA objected to UT’s filing to register the SITES trademark, wrongly asserting that UT was trying to limit or undermine its rights to the SITES mark.

ASLA’s concerns are unjustified and its legal claims are unsupportable. UT has never and is not now trying to limit or withhold ASLA’s use of the SITES trademark.

The University of Texas hopes this can be resolved quickly so the important work of the SITES program can continue.

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