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Team USA And USOPC Sue Puma Over Olympics Trademarks

T
eam USA and the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) have filed a complaint against Puma in Colorado’s federal district court over Olympic Games trademarks.

The USOPC is arguing Puma has infringed on its Olympic trademarks and is causing confusion for consumers relating to the USOPC’s trademarks, TOKYO 2020, BEIJING 2020, and PARIS 2024.

Puma filed for the trademarks of PUMA Tokyo 2021 the same day the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced the delay of the Olympics, which, if successful, covers apparel, athletic equipment, and bags.

Puma later also filed trademark applications for PUMA BEIJING 2022 and PUMA PARIS 2024.

In a statement provided to Sportico, USOPC said Puma is engaged in “shocking” conduct involving a plan to “wilfully undercut critical funding for athlete training and programs.”

The USOPC’s complaint states the Olympics are filled with opportunities for “ambush marketing”, due to the ability to use trademarks associated with specific Olympic Games reserved for the IOC’s 15 top-tier global partners.

As Puma is not an official partner for the IOC, the USOPC claims Puma’s trademark efforts will cause consumers to assume Puma is, or might be, an official partner of the USOPC or the IOC.

The USOPC has demanded a jury trial and court orders that would determine that Puma has used infringing marks and order Puma to abandon those marks, restrain both Puma and businesses under its control from commercially using infringing or ‘confusingly similar’ variations of those marks, cancel administrative proceedings for the Trademark and Trial Appeal Board (TTAB), award the USOPC trebled monetary damaged for wilful infringement, and award the USOPC punitive damages to sufficiently punish and deter Puma from any subsequent unlawful acts.

Meanwhile, the USOPC has announced the details of phase one of their College Sports Sustainability Think Tank, with a focus on sport sustainability, sport structure, and vertical partnerships.

USOPC CEO and member of the think tanks, Sarah Hirshland, said: “We are grateful for the hard work, creativity and dedication of the USOPC College Sports Sustainability Think Tanks members during this turbulent time in our history.”

“We are eager to roll up our sleeves and get to work on transitioning these concepts from ideas into actionable recommendations later this spring,” Hirshland said.

The concepts included in the phase one report emphasise partnerships across the collegiate space and Olympic and Paralympic movements, recognising increased alignment can result in operational efficiencies, untapped revenues, and a unified vision of the sport pathway for athletes.

USOPC Think Tank chair and University of Florida athletic director, Scott Stricklin, said the think tank will spend the next several months convening project teams and industry experts to further explore the areas.

“The ideas we’re exploring certainly push the envelope in thinking, but that’s exactly what’s needed as we face unprecedented timed,” Stricklin said.

“Developing these concepts required collaboration across schools, conferences, athletes, coaches, NGBs, the NCAA and the USOPC, which speaks to the deep conviction we share to protect broad-based varsity sports.

The think tank will share final recommendations to the NCAA, college leaders, and the USOPC board following a deep dive into each concept area.