On April 30th, the Boston Athletic Association, the non-profit that puts on the Boston Marathon®, filed suit against CafePress.com and Zazzle.com, as well as ten John Does, for a litany of offenses that basically boil down to trademark infringement and unfair competition. The BAA’s gripe is that CafePress and Zazzle allowed their users to create and upload designs that infringed on the BAA’s marks. Those infringing designs were then sold to other users on various items such as t-shirts, mugs, and stickers.
This suit has been met with some amount of populist outrage, outrage that I fully understand, and which was in fact my gut reaction as well. After all, the BAA and the Boston Marathon have been around forever, they’re seen as a big and strong corporate entity, and it looks like they’re trying to use their size to crush a few well-meaning individuals with a bogus lawsuit. Unfortunately, I think this is an open and shut case in favor of the BAA and, if I were their attorney, I would have filed it as well.