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Raymond Rotary pushes back after Tough Mudder lays claim to the color orange

By JASON SCHREIBER
Union Leader Correspondent

May 10. 2017 9:40PM
Raymond Area Rotary Club has been asked to stop using orange on its website advertising the Thunder Run. (www.thunderrunnh.com)



Members of the Raymond Area Rotary Club are seeing red after being warned that the club’s use of the color orange to promote its upcoming Thunder Run 5K obstacle race violates a trademark held by Tough Mudder Inc., a large organization that holds similar obstacle races worldwide.

The 4th annual Thunder Run will be held May 20 at New England Dragway in Epping to benefit the Rotary Club’s charity work, but the group has found itself mired in a dispute over the color orange after a lawyer for Tough Mudder sent an email on May 5 advising of the trademark complaint.

In his email, Tough Mudder associate counsel Michael Rosen wrote that the club had engaged in “significant use of the color orange” on its website, www.thunderrunnh.com.

“As you probably know, we have an obligation to police our intellectual property. Accordingly, we have a federal trademark to such color in connection with obstacle course mud runs, so we are kindly asking that you refrain from such significant use on your website,” Rosen wrote in his email.

Rotary member Joe Pratt, the Thunder Run course director, was surprised to hear from Tough Mudder.

“My first reaction was amusement, and I was impressed that we would show up on their radar,” said Pratt, a Nottingham resident.

Pratt fired off an email response to Tough Mudder that said, in part, “I’m going to put off an admonishing call to our pro bono webmaster since I am fairly certain you boys are not going to spend significant assets or energy to deal with the laughable implication that we are encroaching, through color trickery, on your trademarked intellectual property. It is somewhat disconcerting that in David and Goliath form it is possible to litigate against a nonprofit that has a primary goal to eradicate polio worldwide.”

Pratt said the only reason why Thunder Run chose orange was because it showed up well when the club made its award medals. Orange is used on its website and on signs advertising the event placed along area roads.

“It happened to work. It was certainly not a copy or an imitation of Tough Mudder folks,” he told the Union Leader.

The club has since researched the complaint and confirmed that Tough Mudder had indeed trademarked the color orange, but Pratt said the color isn’t that important to the club.

“We’re not capitalizing on orange,” he said.

Club member Tim Louis of Raymond said Thunder Run is the club’s biggest charity event to support its efforts, which include a college scholarship program. It attracts nearly 400 participants.

“It’s a fun time,” he said.

Pratt said the club might consider changing the color for next year’s event, but not this year.

“If we have to go to mauve or burnt cayenne, maybe we will next year,” he said.

jschreiber@newstote.com


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