Operators of an event in Arizona are learning a hard lesson this week about using a trademarked name. AZ Urbanathon, operators of azurbanathon.com, was forced to change it’s name to AZ Urban Race (and azurbanrace.com) after a federal trademark complaint was filed last week. The complaint came on behalf of Men’s Health magazine, which owns a trademark on the term Urbanathon. The AZ Urbanathon, now AZ Urban Race, is an obstacle-style course set to be run in Scottsdale on November 5th. Men’s Health operates it’s own Urbanathon races with a few scheduled later this year.
I was actually at a MLB playoff game at Chase Field in Phoenix a few weeks ago and remember seeing this event advertised. The lawsuit filed demanded that all advertising billboards, marketing materials, t-shirts, etc. with the Urbanathon name be taken down or destroyed. Operators of the now AZ Urban Race complied but said that all of the changes cost them about $15,000.
Here’s where it stings…
Operators of the event said that the trademark infringement was an “honest oversight” because they didn’t think that the name Urbanathon would be trademarked. A simple search would have shown them it was and saved them an awful lot of trouble.
Here’s where it really stings…
According to azurbanrace.com, proceeds from the race are to benefit the Make-a-Wish Foundation. With all the costs to make changes to the name, there may not be any proceeds at all according to event operators. That sucks, and it’s really too bad. I would have loved to see Men’s Health (owned by Rodale, Inc.) allow the event to continue with it’s name this one time as long as all proceeds were going to charity, but I’m sure I don’t know all the details of the situation and it’s really not Men’s Health’s problem or responsibility.
Moral of the story? If you’re going to use a name, term, phrase, or domain, do yourself a giant favor and check for a trademark first. You’ll save yourself a ton of trouble and money in the long run. Oh, and if you’re using it for charity, double check. I’m sure it’s gut-wrenching for everyone involved to know that all the hard work and money invested to benefit the kids at Make-a-Wish is for not.