In a blow to the Tournament of Roses association, a federal court sided with the city of Pasadena on its right to use the name of the Rose Bowl Game, claiming that “the heart and soul of the Rose Bowl Game belong to the people of Pasadena. “
In his decision, announced by the city on Tuesday, July 13, US District Court judge Andre Birotte dismissed all claims against the city in a lawsuit filed by the Pasadena Tournament of Roses association.
The tournament had argued that the city falsely claimed ownership of the Rose Bowl Game brand and was seeking to confuse the market – including partners, such as the College Football Playoff Committee and ESPN – as to who owns the rights to the Rose Bowl Game.
Birotte wrote that “the plaintiff (the tournament) and the defendant (the city) have been business partners for decades. As a result of this mutually beneficial relationship, the Plaintiff has always benefited from the Defendant’s promotion of the Plaintiff’s game and its history and likely encourages such promotion. As stated in oral argument, the fact that this claim is being brought forward now is confusing to the Court and it is clear that this (trademark / unfair competition) claim is not the crux of the parties’ conflict.
Birotte dismissed the Tournament’s claim with prejudice, meaning that the Tournament Association cannot sue again.
“Despite all the legal wrangling, I sincerely hope that now we can collectively focus on New Years Day, with an iconic parade and game that will put Pasadena back in the spotlight of the world,” Mayor Victor Gordo said in a statement. communicated. declaration.
“This lawsuit should never have been filed in the first place,” Gordo said. “The city of Pasadena has been a great partner for the tournament, and it is appalling that the tournament has taken such a big step for nothing. We are glad that the judge wasted no time in dismissing the allegations made entirely. “
A federal judge heard arguments in the intellectual property litigation on May 14 but did not render a decision on that date. The Tournament filed a complaint against the city in February, alleging trademark infringement, unfair competition, false association, defamation and false advertising.
In subsequent filings – in response to allegations of trademark infringement and breach of contract, among others – Pasadena accused the tournament of secretly coordinating to move the 2021 Rose Bowl Game to Texas and then addressing the courts to gain the legal power to move the game again. without consulting the city.
The city argued that the dispute is not about trademark infringements at all, as both sides know exactly who owns what. Rather, it is a contractual dispute, according to the city, which was resolved on Dec. 29 when the city and the tournament signed a $ 2 million deal to officially move the Rose Bowl Game and avoid litigation.
The tournament claimed that it had full ownership of the “Rose Bowl” and “Rose Bowl Game” trademarks and had the right to relocate the game, while the city alleges that the Tournament of Roses contracted to limit its use of these marks without the express consent of the city.
When the complaint was filed, Gordo called it “unexpected and unfortunate that our partner for nearly a century has chosen this path.”
Tensions between the parties escalated when restrictions stemming from the Coronavirus pandemic caused the annual Rose Parade to be canceled and banned fans from attending the Rose Bowl Game in Pasadena. The game was eventually moved to Arlington, Texas, marking the first time since 1942 that the Rose Bowl game was played outside of Pasadena.
The dispute said the tournament association had invoked the “force majeure” clause in its contract, claiming the pandemic was out of its control, so the association had the right to move the game from Pasadena to AT&T Stadium. from Arlington.
Although the dispute stems from the game movement, a movement accepted by Pasadena, problems have persisted because of the city’s “continued insistence that it is the co-owner of the brands and that its consent is required” to invoke unforeseeable circumstances of the contract. clause, according to the association.
But the association went further, alleging the city was falsely claiming ownership of the Rose Bowl Game brand and seeking to confuse the market – including tournament partners, such as the College Football Playoff Committee and ESPN. – as to who owns the rights to the Rose Bowl. Thu.
According to his lawyers, this impacted the tournament’s ability to do business, threatening the future of the Rose Bowl Game itself, not to mention millions of dollars in revenue.
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Editor’s Notes: This article has been corrected. An earlier version had the wrong date for Tuesday.