Saturday, November 9, 2013

WCVB-TV v. Boston Athletic Association case brief

WCVB-TV v. Boston Athletic Association case brief summary
926 F.2d 42 (1991)


CASE SYNOPSIS
Defendants, the sponsor, licensing agent, and broadcaster of the Boston Marathon, appealed from a decision of the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts, which denied a motion for preliminary injunction. The district court refused to issue a preliminary injunction to enjoin plaintiff, another television station, from broadcasting the marathon. Defendants' claim alleged that plaintiff violated their trade or service mark.

CASE FACTS
Defendants were the sponsor, licensing agent, and broadcaster of the Boston Marathon. Defendants claimed that "Boston Marathon" was a registered trade or service mark. Defendant sponsor sold television broadcast rights to defendant broadcaster. Plaintiff, another television station, planned to broadcast the event and use the words, "Boston Marathon."

DISCUSSION

  • On appeal, defendants argued that plaintiff's use would have cause public confusion. 
  • The public would have believed that plaintiff's broadcast had defendants' official imprimatur. 
  • The court found no persuasive evidence of any intent of plaintiff to use the words "Boston Marathon" to suggest official sponsorship of its broadcast. In fact, plaintiff offered to broadcast disclaimers. 
  • Furthermore, use of the words for descriptive purposes was permitted by the statutory fair use defense codified in 15 U.S.C.S. § 1115 (b)(4). 
  • The court concluded that defendants had shown no real likelihood of relevant confusion.


CONCLUSION
The denial of defendants' motion for preliminary injunction was affirmed because defendants failed to show that plaintiff's broadcast with the use of the words "Boston Marathon" created a risk of public confusion that plaintiff's broadcast had an official imprimatur.



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