Monday, November 29, 1999

Sports Authority sued over World Cup ads

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Sports Authority was sued on Thursday by the U.S. Soccer Federation, which accused the sporting goods retailer of running television and Internet advertisements tied to the World Cup without permission.In a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court in Chicago, U.S. soccer's governing body claimed that TSA Stores Inc, which operates as Sports Authority, infringed its trademarked crest and logo in an ad televised during the June 12 World Cup match between the United States and England.It said the ad showed Taylor Twellman, a forward on the U.S. national team, and Michael Strahan, a retired star defensive end for the New York Giants football team, wearing official national team uniforms, including the crest and logo.The soccer body said it objected to the ad because it licenses only one retailer, Dick's Sporting Goods Inc, to use its trademarks.It said TSA on June 16 rejected its demand to stop airing the ad, plans to air it Friday morning during a match between the United States and Slovenia, and is running ads on Facebook and Google Inc's YouTube that include slow-motion close-ups of the crest and logo."In addition to being an unfair and unjust business practice," the complaint said, "TSA's misuse of U.S. Soccer's marks, logos and uniforms is likely to cause confusion, mistake and deception among consumers and give the false impression that U.S. Soccer has an authorized relationship with TSA, which it most clearly does not."The U.S. Soccer Federation is seeking to stop Sports Authority from using its trademarks, triple and punitive damages, and other remedies.Sports Authority Chief Executive David Campisi said in a statement: "We were caught by surprise and hope to resolve this matter expeditiously and cooperatively with the United States Soccer Federation, and are engaged in active dialogue with them to do so."Based in Englewood, Colorado, Sports Authority was acquired in 2006 by private equity firm Leonard Green & Partners LP for about $1.4 billion, regulatory filings show. The U.S. Soccer Federation is headquartered in Chicago.The case is United States Soccer Federation Inc v. TSA Stores Inc, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois, No. 10-03755. (Reporting by Jonathan Stempel; Editing by Richard Chang)
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