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Loeb & Loeb Secures Appellate Victory for USATF in Defense of Antitrust Claim

Loeb & Loeb LLP successfully secured an affirmance of motion to dismiss on behalf of USA Track and Field (USATF) in the defense of an antitrust claim filed by the chewing gum maker Run Gum regarding the marketing and trademark regulation lawsuit, which alleged that USATF, along with the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC), illegally conspired to bar certain advertisers from putting their logos on athletes’ clothes at the 2016 Olympic trials. 

In 2016, the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon had agreed with Loeb & Loeb that the logo and trademark restrictions put in place by the defendants, which Run Gum argued amounted to a restraint of trade, are directly tied to the group’s ability to generate revenue for the U.S. Olympic team under the Amateur Sports Act (ASA), and therefore USATF and the USOC are entitled to antitrust immunity. 

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed the federal court’s decision on appeal, agreeing with the finding that the advertising restrictions “prevent a dilution of the Olympic brand” and “permit the [USOC] and USATF to play a gatekeeping function which preserves the exclusivity — and thus value — of the Olympic symbols and name.” This decision was the first time the Ninth Circuit addressed so-called implied antitrust immunity under the ASA.

The Loeb & Loeb attorneys handling this matter for the USATF were Douglas Masters and Emily Stone.