Color trademarks has been a controversial topic for many years, with laws changing throughout different jurisdictions all the time. This week, Raymond Area Rotary Club are seeing the consequences of this law after being warned that the club’s use of the color orange to promote its upcoming Thunder Run 5K obstacle race violates a trademark held by Tough Mudder Inc., a large organization that holds similar obstacle races worldwide.
In an email, Tough Mudder associate counsel Michael Rosen wrote that the club had engaged in “significant use of the color orange” on its website, www.thunderrunnh.com.
“As you probably know, we have an obligation to police our intellectual property. Accordingly, we have a federal trademark to such color in connection with obstacle course mud runs, so we are kindly asking that you refrain from such significant use on your website,” Rosen wrote in his email.
Joe Pratt, Rotary Member, fired off an email response to Tough Mudder that said, in part, “I’m going to put off an admonishing call to our pro bono webmaster since I am fairly certain you boys are not going to spend significant assets or energy to deal with the laughable implication that we are encroaching, through color trickery, on your trademarked intellectual property. It is somewhat disconcerting that in David and Goliath form it is possible to litigate against a nonprofit that has a primary goal to eradicate polio worldwide.”
“It happened to work. It was certainly not a copy or an imitation of Tough Mudder folks,” he told the Union Leader.
The club has since researched the complaint and confirmed that Tough Mudder had indeed trademarked the color orange, but Pratt said the color isn’t that important to the club. They say they will change the color for next year’s event but are not going to change it for this year.