North Face charged with trademark infringement case by COC

The Canadian fabrics manufacturers, The North Face has received a “cease and desist” letter from the Canadian Olympic Committee on charges that the clothing maker’s new line is infringing on its trademark by trying to associate with the Sochi 2014 Olympics.

 The North Face is not an official sponsor for next month’s Games in Russia.  The COC says the collection violates its trademarks and other legal rights by suggesting in its design that the brand supports the Canadian Olympic team.

 The current dispute started when The North Face launched their “international collection” in November featuring a T-shirt with the date of the opening ceremonies “07.02.2014” and other clothing with a patch saying “RU 14,” – a reference to the Winter Games in Sochi. Other merchandise showed a world map with a red star where Sochi is located.

 The COC says that it is a sales tactic employed by The North Face, commonly known as “ambush marketing.”

 The COC issued a warning resulting in North Face taking some Olympic trademarks, including the Olympic rings, out of its promotional material; however COC wants all clothing pulled from shelves.

 A letter implicating legal proceeding against North Face is the next stage in trying to get the company to comply.

 Asked for a comment, The North Face replied via email.

“The North Face has been a longstanding supporter of the freeskiing movement, including our sponsorship of Canadian Freeskiing athletes Mike Riddle and Yuki Tsubota. We are not an official sponsor of the Canadian Olympic Committee or Team Canada and never indicated we were. We have no further comment.”

 Chris Overholt, chief executive of the Canadian Olympic Committee said that as COC is 98 per cent funded by sponsorship, it must protect its brand.

“What is important to us in all of this is we would never want Canadians to conclude that in buying The North Face apparel they are in some way supporting the team, our athletes or coaches. That’s simply not true. If you’re buying what our partners provide, … then you’re supporting Canadian athletes,” he said.

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