30th January 2018
On January 18, 2018, U.S. District Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson granted the NCAA’s motion, and subsequently, entered a default judgement against Kizzang LLC. Kizzang provides online sweepstakes and fantasy sports entertainment services. As we have previously covered, the suit originally began in March 2017 when the NCAA opposed Kizzang’s attempt to register the marks “April Madness” and “Final 3.” The NCAA sued Kizzang alleging trademark infringement, trademark dilution, and unfair competition. The NCAA complained that Kizzang’s marks infringed, diluted, and unfairly competed with the NCAA’s registered trademarks “March Madness” and “Final Four.” The NCAA also requested that Kizzang recall all products, services, advertising, and promotional materials bearing the NCAA marks and any imitations of the NCAA marks.
In March 2017, Judge Magnus-Stinson issued a stipulated order under which Kizzang agreed not to use “April Madness” or “Final 3” in its online fantasy games. Also under the order, Kizzang was required to respond to the NCAA’s complaint by June 15, 2017. However, Kizzang missed their deadline.
On January 18, 2018, Judge Magnus-Stinson granted the NCAA’s motion. Judge Magnus-Stinson said that Kizzang failed to show good cause for its default and failed to act in a timely in order to remedy the default or to show meritorious defenses. As a result of the ruling, Kizzang is prohibited from using any of the contested marks and is required to recall all products, services and advertising bearing the marks. In addition, because of the ruling, Kizzang concedes that they engaged in trademark infringement, dilution, and unfair competition.
This is yet another example of how aggressive the NCAA is when it comes to protecting their registered trademarks. The NCAA views their trademarks as valuable assets, and for good reason, over 85 percent of the NCAA’s yearly budget comes from the advertising and marketing of its three-week “March Madness” basketball tournament.