Marathon lawsuit: BAA sues online T-shirt sellers over race-themed wares

Confused?BAA cites this magnet as example.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.

Complete complaint.

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    Comments

    Get bent BAA

    By on

    Sorry, but unless their imagery is an exact copy or the shirt says "Boston Marathon", the BAA can sit on their unicorn horn and spin.

    Not a lawyer

    Yeah, let the guessing game begin (sort of like over on the comments section about the wrongful-imprisonment case) but it seems from a legal point of view that this is a weak argument.

    How many times have you seen ads saying "Enjoy the Big Game on Sunday!" without mentioning the Super Bowl - it's the same thing, here.

    The B*St*n M*r*th0n threat is simply to scare people into taking down their shirts, they'd never win.

    I might have to create a t-shirt, just to respond - Maybe, "SUCK ON IT, APRIL 20 26.2 RACE SPONSOR!!"

    Isn't Boston Marathon a

    By on

    Isn't Boston Marathon a common name now a days, such a Xerox was in the past?

    Xerox is still a trademark

    Even though people say (or at least used to say) 'Xerox' when they mean 'photocopy', it's still the name of a company and only that company can make products with that name. (Full disclosure: I worked for Xerox from 1979-84.)

    Similarly, nobody else can create another race and call it the Boston Marathon. That said, BAA's suit against t-shirts that don't have the words 'Boston Marathon' on them is ridiculous.

    Are Boston marathon officials

    By on

    Are Boston marathon officials paying us for the ip rights to use "Boston"?

    And...

    By on

    ...can I sue the BAA for inviting in thousands of scrawny, unattractive tourists to my city, and thereby ousling up a perfectly good weekend? Where's _my_ compensation? Eff tradition-- the day the marathon came to be dominated by rich out-of-towners rather than a race that your neighbors could just sign up and do (or not sign up, just jump in) it ceased to be a Boston event.

    Race related?

    By on

    I looked at the magnet and thought, well, it doesn't look racist...

    Anyhow, my understanding as a non-lawyer is that it's the trademark holders' responsibility to defend their marks from becoming dilluted, and that it's better for them to do that too aggressively than not aggressively enough.