News broke yesterday morning that Rogue Fitness had applied for a trademark on the word STRONGMAN in Europe and had already been granted in The United States. A lot of speculation and accusations began to fly so we reached out to Bill Henniger of Rogue Fitness for some answers.
The news really broke out from owner of Cerberus Calum Mark Liptrot posting this video on Facebook.
After that is when it really went viral and the entire Strongman community wondered what this meant.
Which sparked this statement from Rogue Fitness on social media
View this post on Instagram
Big News: 1. 2018 Arnold Strongman Classic will air on CBS Sports Network on 12/20 at 9PM EST and 12/25 at 8PM EST 2. 2019 Arnold Strongman Classic will be live streamed on Facebook and air on CBS Sports Network 3. 2019 Rogue Record Breakers: We are paying out $50K to the strongman that lifts the most weight over 501 Kilos at the ASC 4. Building a 15,000 LB wood Wheel of Pain for the ASC – 45’ wide and 30’ tall There is a bunch of discussion that Rogue just trademarked the Sport of Strongman. It is not true. The trademark is to distinguish pieces of Rogue equipment. The trademark is not directed to the sport or strongman athletes. This mark is for specific products like the Rogue Strongman bags, with features Rogue designed. We applied for this protection because more and more copies of Rogue products are appearing on the market. These are products that we have developed with the input of many members of the strongman community, and that we have invested a lot of time and resources in. It probably looks like we are going to try and tell people that they can’t use the term strongman for competitions, events, or equipment. That isn’t going to happen. No way are we going to do that, zero chance. I apologize for the confusion. Bill Henniger, Owner
This needed more clarification though and is when I reached out to Bill Henniger with questions posed from myself and the community and below is the conversation.
How do they justify trademarking the usage of word that dozens if not hundreds of other companies have used in the targeted fashion to describe their products for years, some decades?
“Because it’s legal and I can” is an acceptable answer, we just want honesty.
Why wouldn’t you trademark ‘Rogue Strongman’ or something similar instead?
Why did you not advertise your trademark application so that the community had time to support/oppose the trademark?
Does the trademark only apply to ‘STRONGMAN’ or to ‘Strongman’, ‘strongman’ and other variations of the word?
If I produce and sell a product under the name of strongman sandbag, strongman log, etc. that does not use your proprietary design, should I expect to hear from your lawyers?
What are you expecting to gain from this trademark since it does not protect your intellectual property?
What’s to stop Rogue from extending their reach beyond ‘defending the IP’ of their products in two or three years? What happens if the company becomes publicly traded?
How have they demonstrated that their trademark claim is distinctively different from its original meaning?
Below are the answers from Bill Henniger
Hi Kalle, Completely understand the concern1) My IP team has been putting comprehensive protection on anything we come out with.In this they applied for the name we were using on Strongman bags. We also filed patents.Cerberus the company that kicked off the video is in violation of our patents. They got a cease and desist hence the issue. He blocked me from his facebook page when I called him on it. We did not invent the sandbag in its original form but we did design the style, type and how the bag was made etc. That is what we have a patent on. Steve Slaters built this with our sewing team from a sketch.Enough people had the concern you do and I said we did this for bag stuff only. I told the IP team to amend the mark to be just that, we had and have no intention of doing damage to the community.That has been filed and can be researched etc, should publish to the net sometime soon.The IP team is basically trying to setup barriers to companies copying the bags. There was zero intention to use it for other items but I can see the community basically has to trust me that we won’t enforce it so the I instructed the legal team to make it exactly what I said and give up any other rights etc.2) We didn’t try to use it because like I said we didn’t do this to try and become a trademark troll. We just did it to protect the bags.3) The mark only applies to use with equipment, so not events, people, etc. I had them change it so it was even more narrow and just dealt with bags so that there is zero question as to our intention.This category of mark is only for equipment not the sport etc.4) If someone does not violate the design items then there is no problem but again with us narrowing the scope you don’t have to take my word for it, it will be via the USPTO5) The IP team expected to be able to protect the bag from people knocking it off. There were companies that knocked off the design and called it the same name, some used our website copy etc.Steve Slaters and Laurie our sewing SME designed the main bag, cyclone and throwing bag. They all have trademark and patent protection.6) By me changing the scope of the mark it can’t be used lets say if we took the company public (which we aren’t) I respected those questions people asked and if I will say it then I will put it in writingThat is done, all is filed.7) The mark was done via the connection to the bag etc. There are many other strongman trademarks out there with it in the name or in a different category.If you want I could have our IP attorney answer that in more depth. Happy to do that—–Long story short I see the concern and don’t want it to be one. Any threat was killed so that the community doesn’t have to worry about it.We need to get back to growing the ASC, WSM, Legends Series and documentaries. We want to provide value not extract it.Carrying that on is our only mission not trying to enforce a mark against great people.
Cerberus has also been sent a cease and desist on the throwing bags there is more info below
How does this effect the rest of Strongman? It doesn’t look like it really does. It is a bit scary for small business as the term STRONGMAN is so broad but Bill’s response seems to clear up the scope of their trademark. What it really shows is that Strongman is growing and with that growth has became a viable industry in which practices used normally in business needs to be used and protecting IP is more important than ever. Going away are the days of Strongman being a loosely organized community of people welding stuff together in their shed and freely sharing information as there was no market for it anyways.
There are positives and negatives to this of course but I believe the future is bright for Strongman.
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