When Cisco Chairman and Chief Executive Officer John Chambers recently kicked off a new $100 million ad campaign touting the “Internet of Everything” and “Tomorrow Starts Here,” he opened up the tech giant to potential damage from a law suit.


Because East Carolina University trademarked the phrase “Tomorrow Starts Here” a decade ago.

On Friday, ECU sued Cisco (Nasdaq: CSCO) in federal court and said it is seeking damages.

“ECU has used the mark ‘Tomorrow Starts Here’ for over a decade, including in national advertisements and publications such as Forbes and Wired,” Chancellor Steve Ballard said in a statement announcing the suit.

Cisco defended itself in a rebuttal.

Cisco Public Relations Representative Kristin Carvell denied any unauthorized use, according to The Daily Reflector in Greenville.

“We were surprised to learn that East Carolina University filed a complaint this morning,” she said. “Cisco takes intellectual property rights very seriously, and we are confident that our new campaign does not create any confusion in the marketplace.”

ECU said the “Tomorrow Starts Here” slogan is used university-wide.

Cisco’s previous slogan was “The Human Network.”

Even Cisco touts the slogan via Twitter with the hashtag #tomorrowstartshere, The Reflector noted.

Cisco employs some 5,000 people in RTP, its second largest concentration of workers outside of its Silicon Valley headquarters.