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The US Olympic Committee (USOPC) has sued Puma for trademark infringement, alleging the sportswear company has ‘declared war’ on Olympic trademarks.
The USOPC filed a complaint with the US District Court of Colorado on Tuesday, claiming that Puma is causing confusion among consumers surrounding sponsorship for the delayed Tokyo 2020 Olympic games.
In March 2020, Puma filed a trademark application (US number 88/846/322) for the mark ‘Puma Tokyo 2021’, which covered apparel, athletic equipment, and bags.
Upon learning about this, the USOPC contacted Puma asking the company to withdraw its application but Puma refused. It later filed several other trademarks including ‘Puma Beijing 2022’ and ‘Puma Tokyo 2022’ and also initiated trademark cancellations against USPOC trademarks.
“PUMA has declared war on Games marks, tried to register them for itself, and petitioned to cancel Games marks registrations. PUMA’s declaration of war on the games marks is a thinly veiled attempt to benefit from association with the Olympics without becoming a ‘The Olympic Partner’ (TOP) Sponsor,” the complaint said.
The USOPC has requested that the use of infringing marks be prohibited, that Puma’s cancellation proceedings be terminated, and that the court upholds its Tokyo 2020 and Beijing 2022 trademarks.
Puma has applied for similar marks relating to key postponed sporting events. In April last year, Puma applied for the mark ‘Puma Euro 2021’ following the postponement of the Euro 2020 football championship.
In 1996’s Atlanta Olympic games, which was officially sponsored by Nike, Puma faced controversy for alleged ambush marketing, after sprinter Linford Christie appeared at a news conference wearing contact lenses bearing the ‘Puma’ mark.
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Olympics, USOPC, Puma, Tokyo 2020, Nike