The Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) has started legal proceedings against apparel manufacturer The North Face over allegations that it has infringed on Olympic trademarks. This lawsuit claims that the alleged infringement has caused some consumers to believe that The North Face was an official sponsor of the XXII Olympic Winter Games.
The COC filed the civil claim in a Vancouver court earlier this week, where it took action against the company due to the way it designed and promoted its 2014 “Villageware” collection. The North Face eventually changed the name of the collection to the “International Collection” in response to the COC’s concerns, but failed to comply with the committee’s demands, according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit claims that the original name of the collection was “an obvious reference” to the apparel that athletes will wear while in the Olympic village. It focuses on items that look like they were deliberately designed to look like the Olympic uniforms, using the colors of Canada’s flag and displaying the word “Canada” and the Maple Leaf. The North Face also included the marks RU/14 and 2.7.14, which were apparent references to the date of the opening ceremonies, and also repeatedly used the names “Sochi,” “Men’s Sochi Full Zip Hoodie,” “Women’s Sochi Pullover Hoodie,” and “Sochi Base Camp Duffel” in marketing materials distributed in Canada. A catalogue for the collection even stated that the product line “captures the international spirit” of Sochi, possibly misleading consumers that The North Face has an official connection to the Olympic Games.
The COC is seeking an injunction that would oblige The North Face to stop involving itself in such marketing practices, and also seeks damages that were not specified. The court now needs to conclude whether The North Face infringed on the Olympic trademark and to decide on the type of the penalty if it finds evidence of wrongdoing, CBC News said.