The Boston Athletic Association yesterday filed a federal lawsuit against CafePress and Zazzle for letting users sell T-shirts, magnets and mugs related to a famous race held on Patriots Day in Eastern Massachusetts that the BAA doesn't even want you to refer to without paying them for the privilege.
The suit, filed in US District Court in Boston, seeks several million dollars in damages. Although some of the examples cited by the BAA use its trademarked unicorn symbol or the words "Boston Marathon,' the BAA alleges it is also suffering "irreparable injury" from shirts bearing logos such as "BOS 26.2," "BOSTON 26.2" and "BOSTON QUALIFIER," especially when combined with an image of a runner and the date of the specific 26.2-mile footrace through several cities and towns in eastern Massachusetts. The BAA says these are "confusingly similar" and "falsely suggest sponsorship by or affiliation with the BOSTON MARATHON event."
BOSTON MARATHON® is a famous mark. The B.A.A. has for decades expended considerable efforts and resources promoting the BOSTON MARATHON® event and operating a licensing program that makes official BOSTON MARATHON® merchandise available to the public. The B.A.A. has also expended considerable efforts and resources in enforcing its exclusive and valuable rights in the BOSTON MARATHON® mark. The public recognizes the BOSTON MARATHON® mark as indicating a single source of goods and services.
Both companies only sell products designed by users. The suit was also technically brought against ten "John Does," although the BAA complaint limits its demand for monetary penalties - and advertising the shirts were not connected with that race - to the two T-shirt publishers.