Running-event company The Color Run, LLC filed suit last week against rival company My School Color Run, LLC for willful trademark infringement, unfair competition, and false designation of origin. Color Run asserts that My School Color Run’s similar name, branding, events, and apparel violate both federal and state law.

According to the complaint, My School Color Run’s similar “color”-formative marks allow My School Color Run to benefit from Color Run’s established brand, and are likely to cause confusion amongst consumers as to the origin or association of the company with Color Run. Color Run also alleges that My School Color Run’s comparable events unfairly compete with Color Run, causing the company to lose sales and suffer damage to its goodwill and reputation in the marketplace.

After negotiations between the parties failed to resolve the dispute, Color Run filed this action against My School Color Run in the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. Color Run seeks both equitable and monetary relief from the court.

Takeaway: Sponsored events and other activations are still subject to the same trademark rules as products and services.  Companies should take care to ensure that even events that have become part of pop culture may be owned by a party asserting senior trademark rights.