Summerfest may lose its Rock ‘n Sole to the forces of Rock ‘n’ Roll, in a federal trademark battle being fought over the name of the inaugural run in Milwaukee.
Competitor Group Inc., the company behind the expanding Rock ‘n’ Roll marathon and half-marathon series, initiated the fight through a cease and desist letter that directs Milwaukee World Festival Inc. to drop the Rock ‘n Sole name for the half-marathon and 10K scheduled for July 10.
Competitor owns the trademarks for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon and 1/2 marathon titles, and considers the Rock ‘n Sole to be a riff close enough to violate that mark. The name would confuse participants and dilute the Rock ‘n Roll brand, according to the letter sent on March 11.
The element of confusion – whether a runner would think they’re signing on for a Rock ‘n’ Roll run, for example – is a key factor in trademark infringement cases.
Summerfest responded by filing a federal complaint seeking a court order to clear Rock ‘n Sole for its run.
In its filing, Summerfest argues that its Rock ‘n Sole name and logo are sufficiently different to avoid confusion and that its event does not compete in any of Competitor Group’s markets. It plans to put on a race exclusively connected to the music festival, now in its 44th year.
Roughly 2,500 runners have registered, so far, for the half-marathon and 10K races to be run on the Hoan Bridge and Milwaukee lakefront.
Competitor Group, based in San Diego, has expanded to 19 races across the country; but none in Milwaukee or Wisconsin. There have been preliminary talks to bring a Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon to Milwaukee, but no solid proposals have been publicized.
Too close? Here are the logos for the Rock 'n Sole and Rock 'n' Roll races,
from their respective web sites.