While most businesses are interested in protecting their branding, like CrossFit’s recent increasingly aggressive efforts in claiming (and sometimes reclaiming) their brand name, most companies see their efforts as an ongoing struggle in the midst of constant threat. For the Ultimate Fighting Championship, their perspective may be different, according to the Las Vegas Review Journal’s news piece that celebrates their legal triumph over a pirating threat. UFC’s trademark attorneys may have taken a cue from the fighters their company represents as one recent brand threat was declared 100 percent neutralized. UFC even got an apology from the guy, something that doesn’t happen in the fighting ring.
UFC is a Las Vegas-based MMA fight promotion and media company, and when their trademark attorneys discovered a New York man stealing UFC content on the Internet, they came at him in court “with all the zeal that UFC superstar Ronda Rousey shows when applying her trademark armbar move in the Octagon.” I’m not sure if you remember how intimidating Rousey can be, but if you need a reminder, you can see a photo of her (and what trademark pirates can expect to feel from the UFC) here. She’s the one with the angry face punching the other one.
I guess Steven Messina wasn’t as tough as Liz Carmouche (the one Rousey is punching in the photo linked above), because instead of getting back up and continuing to fight, he flew up a white flag pretty quickly, a message UFC means to reiterate to the public. Through the aggressive lawsuit brought by the UFC’s trademark attorneys, Messina was “penalized by UFC for an undisclosed amount of money, forced to surrender his computer hardware and software to UFC representatives, to turn over all records and information pertaining to piracy of UFC content and even information linked to other pirates.”
As the Las Vegas Review Journal highlights, “Messina said he was sorry.” Even trademark attorneys like Gregory Schulz would probably be sorry after getting punched in the face by Ronda Rousey. And ok, while Messina didn’t literally get punched in the face, UFC feels that the comparison is pretty apt in describing the way that they plan to pursue copyright infringements and patent violations of their intellectual property.
Messina had somehow managed to distribute 200 hours of UFC content over the Internet without permission, but now, entirely in submission, the pirate-turned-narc has agreed to “provide details of his techniques” for hacking the material and help “sniff out pirates who stream fight shows and show content obtained illegally.” He gets that he did something wrong though, as Messina acknowledged in the public statement that he hopes he “can use this difficult period as a learning experience as I move on with my life,” and reminds his fellow pirates that his actions were “illegal and not worth the risk.”
Unfortunately as lawyers like Schulz know, many of these pirates only care if they get caught. But this recent big win for UFC sends them all a message: “We will hunt you down.”