September 17, 2007

In a recent filing in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, Austin Division, the Lance Armstrong Foundation alleges that Chris Ohman and Animal Charity Collar Group (dba infringe on its trademark rights to LIVESTRONG. The complaint, as reported by The Smoking Gun (link below), alleges that starting in June 2005, the defendants marketed and offered for sale “yellow pet collars made of a silicone-like material bearing the words BARKSTRONG or PURRSTRONG” and “subsequently began selling other products featuring these words or similar wording…” The defendants allegedly began using those two marks, and also used CAN YOUR DOG BARKSTRONG AND CAN YOUR CAT PURRSTRONG even after the defendants pursued a “business deal” with plaintiff for which the plaintiff denied based upon the defendants’ lack of business experience in this area. The suit alleges trademark and trade dress infringement, alleging that the “BARKSTRONG Marks are confusingly similar to, and are likely to cause confusion, mistake or deception, as to origin, source, sponsorship, or affiliation” with the plaintiff. Images of the collars at issue are also provided in The Smoking Gun link below. It is noted that the Lance Armstrong Foundation has 11 pending U.S. trademark applications or registered U.S. trademarks, including U.S. Trademark Reg. No. 3,052,284 for LIVESTRONG in IC 014 (jewelry) and IC 036 (charitable fundraising services).

The Smoking Gun Article: LINK
U.S. Trademark Reg. No. 3,052,284: LINK
Lance Armstrong Foundation Website: LINK


ACCG said...


The USPTO has issued PURRSTRONG to Chris Ohman as a registered Trademark. BARKSTRONG was given a notice of allowance until the LAF decided to file a opposition which does not change our authority to use the mark in commerce.

The USPTO has issued a notice of allowance for our Patent on the collar design. We expect two more Patent's to be issued shortly. Our Patent includes LIVESTRONG and we have not granted permission to anyone to use it, nor do we intend to use it. We in essence are protecting the LAF.

We have been negotiating with the DLA Piper (LAF counsel) and stand firm in our right to pursue this venture and support animal welfare. Support from our customers has been overwhelming.

Please see attached press release.

Chris M. Ohman
Animal Charity Collar Group

Is LAF spending money on lawyers instead of research?

Animal Charity Collar Group a Tulsa based company faces a dilemma with the threat of a lawsuit from the Lance Armstrong Foundation. In July of 2005 Chris Ohman, CEO of the Animal Charity Collar Group approached and met with Jeff Manning of the LAF concerning a concept to produce animal collars with the LIVESTRONG trademark. The LAF passed on the idea according to Ohman, “Jeff Manning sited the decision to pass was the LAF thought the idea would dilute the foundation’s mission of human cancer research”.

Prior to his meeting with the Armstrong Foundation Chris Ohman had filed for trademark protection with his own word mark’s, BARKSTRONG and PURRSTRONG (dog’s and cat’s respectively). Ohman further protected his idea with a design patent for pet collars that included both of the Trademark’s he filed for and the LIVESTRONG mark to prevent anyone from infringing on any one or all of the trademarks.

The Tulsa based company; Animal Charity Collar Group has been marketing the collars to raise money for local animal welfare groups. “We have been very well received by the rescue groups and humane societies/SPCA” said Ohman. “The primary goal is to develop a model fund raising program for the animal welfare groups to follow” states Ohman as he explains how the product line is being further developed. Now they are in jeopardy of losing money fighting a lawsuit that could help the animal charities.

Strangely enough the Armstrong Foundation has recently started offering a pet collar on their website. This comes while being “on notice” from the July 05’ meeting with Chris Ohman, of the patent pending status of his idea “which is fact and not disputed”.

The questions arise in how well foundations like the LAF are being run? Is it ethical to promote you mission receiving good will and financial support from the public in your organization but spending valuable resources suing other groups that also try to help others? How willing is the public to support activity and decisions like this?
# # #
If you would like further information about this issue, or to set up a interview with Chris Ohman, please contact (918)-830-0808/ email- reference:

Council for LAF
DLA Piper San Francisco, CA.

Mark Reichel said...

Chris - thank you for sharing this additional information petrtaining to your PURRSTRONG and BARKSTRONG marks, as this will give readers of the blog additional information relating to this trademark dispute.

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