VANCOUVER, B.C. (CN) - Days before the 2014 Olympics begin in Sochi, the Canadian Olympic Committee claims in court that The North Face is passing itself off as an official sponsor of the Canadian Olympic team, with a new clothing line that features thinly veiled references to the games.
The committee claims in British Columbia Supreme Court that the apparel company's "2014 Villagewear Collection" misleads consumers by implying that the clothes support the Canadian Olympic team.
"The use of the term 'villagewear' is an obvious reference to the clothing that Olympic athletes will wear while in the 2014 Olympic Village," the complaint states. "The Villagewear Collection emphasized the flags of several of the most significant participants (including Canada) in the Winter Olympic Games."
The committee also claims the company used marks such as "RU/14," "Sochi," "Olympic" and "Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games" in marketing and advertising, all without a license. And some of the collection's items "were intentionally designed to look like Canadian Olympic Team uniforms," the complaint states.
The committee claims that media coverage of the clothing line's launch was riddled with "misleading and confusing references" to the Olympics, the defendants refused to comply with its cease and desist demands.
The COC is represented by Bradley J. Freedman and Robert J.C. Deane with Borden Ladner Gervais LLP in Vancouver.
Named as defendants are VF Outdoor (Canada), and Plein Air VF (Canada) dba The North Face.
The North Face is no stranger to trademark complaints, having repeatedly sued a parody clothesmaker called The South Butt, in Missouri.