“Custody Battle” for CrossFit Kids

In 2005, CrossFit Inc. licensed Jeff and Mikki Martin to create the official program known as CrossFit Kids. The Martins have been affiliate owners since 2003, and have always had a passion for bringing the sport to both the elderly, and specifically kids. The Martins prided themselves on teaching fundamental movements, and promoting the “small gains” for these athletes. Over the following years, the Martins developed a CrossFit Kids Journal, CrossFitKids.com and CrossFit Kids seminars, all through the direction and permission of CrossFit Inc. After the wild success of the CrossFit Kids program, CrossFit Inc. offered the Martins employment with the company. The Martins were to become full-time salaried employees of the company, and become program managers for the CrossFit Kids program.

Things seemed to unravel between the Martins and CrossFit Inc. around March 2014. Since they were now considered as paid employees of CrossFit Inc., the Martins had to give CrossFit Inc. access to the CrossFitKids.com domain and its related email addresses. The Martins asserted they had ownership rights to “CrossFit Kids” and refused to comply with demand. In hopes to avoid a legal battle with the Martins (whom employees of CrossFit Inc. considered to be good people and good friends) CrossFit Inc. offered several opportunities to negotiate terms and even offered them $1 million to control the brand name, which CrossFit Inc. allegedly already owned. The Martins refused to take the settlement offer.

CrossFit Inc. protects their brand name with an iron fist. They own over 11,000 affiliates worldwide and pride themselves on keeping control of their intellectual property. In October of this year, CrossFit Inc. filed a lawsuit against the Martins. The suit alleges that the couple is infringing on the CrossFit trademark. All CrossFit Inc. wants from the Martins is to retain access and control of its intellectual property. The Martins have filed counterclaims against CrossFit Inc. In these claims they allege that the fitness conglomerate owes them millions of dollars. This is after having been compensated as SMEs (Subject Matter Experts) for five years prior to their employment, according to the terms of the standard SME license, and then compensated as executive-level employees for four more years.

Intellectual Property is defined as having Intangible rights protecting the products of human intelligence and creation, such as copyrightable works, patented inventions, trademarks, and trade secrets. Although largely governed by federal law, state law also governs some aspects of intellectual property. Intellectual property describes a wide variety of property. This property pertains to works created by musicians, authors, artists, and inventors. This law typically focuses around areas of copyright, patents, and trademark law. It is intended largely to encourage the development of art, science, and information by granting certain property rights to all artists, which include inventors in the arts and the sciences. Rights protected under the law of intellectual property allow artists to protect themselves from infringement, or the unauthorized use and misuse of their creations. Trademarks and service marks protect distinguishing features (such as names or package designs) that are associated with particular products or services and that indicate commercial source.

In this case, the argument is for copyright and trademark infringement for the use of the CrossFit name. CrossFit Inc. allegedly has made every attempt to resolve this issue with the Martins in lieu of litigation, however the time for action has come. CrossFit feels that this is an unauthorized use of their brand name in terms of their domain names, websites, social-media accounts and email accounts, thus had no choice but to file suit to protect the CrossFit brand.

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