Marathon Monday rights go to Everett printer as BAA challenge fails

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BOSTON – Velocity LCC, a custom printer in Everett, won trademark rights to “Marathon Monday,” beating out a challenge from the sponsoring organization of the Boston Marathon, in a ruling from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Velocity applied for trademark rights to the phrase for use on clothing and accessories in early 2011. The Boston Athletic Association, or BAA, challenged the application, saying that the phrase was closely tied to the annual 26.2-mile road race and that granting trademark rights to Velocity would create a “false suggestion of connection” with the two organizations.

The marathon, the oldest foot race of its kind in the nation, is traditionally run on the third Monday in April, which is also the state Patriots’ Day  holiday. Often referred to in Boston as “Marathon Monday,” the race has been held annually for 117 consecutive years, drawing contestants from the world over.

Nonetheless, the federal patent office’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board ruled against the BAA, saying that the association hadn’t proved that Marathon Monday is synonymous with the Boston Marathon, or that goods printed with that phrase would be generally construed as tied to the association and the race. Velocity prints and embroiders custom designs on clothing for wholesalers, retailers and other clients, according to its website.

“The fact that the Boston Marathon is annually held on the third Monday in April may be generally known by the consuming public, but it has not been shown that Marathon Monday is a recognized name or identity of the commercial entity responsible for the Boston Marathon,” the board said in its decision.

“Marathon Monday” is also used in connection with other races, such as the ING New York City Marathon and the Walt Disney World Marathon, the board noted. The phrase has been used to designate events on the day after those races. Other bloggers and running experts also utilize the term generically.

Velocity and the BAA didn’t respond immediately to requests for comment on the ruling.

This isn’t the first time the marathon organizer has fought and lost cases involving the use of the race’s name, according to Boston law firm Foley Hoag.

In a blog post on Tuesday, the firm pointed out that the BAA lost a bid to prevent Boston television station WCVB from using the name without a license when describing the event. It also said the BAA successfully fended off a T-shirt maker’s claim that “Boston Marathon” had become a generic term so could be used freely.

Contact Kara Bettis at [email protected] or @karabettis