Cage Rage Defiant in Face of UFC Suit

Jul 10, 2007
With more money and interest in mixed martial arts than ever before, it's clear the global expansion of the UFC has had a massive affect on the growth of the sport.

Putting on two shows in quick succession, as well as planning a return to London for UFC 75 in September, the UFC will have quickly left its mark on the United Kingdom, the first country outside the U.S. it has targeted.

With that expansion comes Zuffa's effort to protect its UFC brand, and as part of that it has sued UK's largest homegrown promotion, Cage Rage, for what the Las Vegas promoter alleges was copyright infringement over the term "Ultimate Fighting."

"Yes it's true, we are being sued by Zuffa," said Cage Rage promoter Andy Geer. "But it's also true we are defending the case. The UFC/Zuffa rely on bullying people with their high priced lawyers but they have picked a fight here that they cannot win."

Geer appears to be quite sure of his own legal footing: "The sport in the UK is commonly referred to as ‘Ultimate Fighting'; it even said that in the release they made.

"So yes, we promote Ultimate Fighting events. No one can trademark or copyright the term ‘Ultimate Fighting' in the UK. It has been deemed a generic term, therefore Cage Rage and anyone else in the UK is free to use it. Case closed."

Whilst Cage Rage is the most widely recognized British-based promotion, the organization was not alone in hearing from the UFC legal team, as explained by Free Fighting Federation (FX3) promoter Paul James.

"We received a letter a couple of months ago stating that we were using the words ‘Ultimate Cage Fighting' -- incorporating ‘Ultimate' and ‘Fighting' in the same sentence," James said. "We were advised that we would have to take this advertising off straight away.

"We didn't reply back to them, obviously. We did take the advertising off; we changed the actual advertising name to ‘Extreme Cage Fighting' and waited to see what happened."

A few weeks later, James received another letter, stating that the UFC had noticed alterations made to Web site, and that they found the changes acceptable, again stating that the UFC held the exclusive rights to the term, "Ultimate Fighting."

However, no ill feeling appears to remain on behalf of the Berkshire, England-based FX3 promoter. "Although we kind of got a nasty letter originally, they've come back in a nice way," said James. "Since this has happened, I have actually been contacted by (UFC matchmaker) Joe Silva. And I received an e-mail from (UFC UK president) Marshall Zelaznik the other day, saying that he would have liked to have come to the [FX3] event, but was busy, so he's going to try to come down to the November event."

Even as the UFC may be on reasonably good terms with some UK promoters, faced with what could potentially be a substantial legal bill, Cage Rage's Geer seems less inclined to send out friendly invitations.

"This case could cost upward of $500,000 to defend in the high courts and Zuffa haven't come across anyone else who is willing to put up the money to fight them … we will not back down," Geer said. "We want to fight and we have the resources to do it."

Referring back to the date clash that saw UFC hold their return to the UK on the same day as the long-announced Cage Rage 21 event, Geer alleged that Zuffa has tried a "series of dirty tricks to sabotage our events, like trying to pay our officials not to turn up, date clashing and many more I cannot mention."

"But it has made no difference," Geer continued. "We have major TV contracts and they are just on a cable channel. We continue to get stronger with each event and we do not fear the UFC."

As a parting shot, Geer finished on a confident note: "We are going to take this case all the way. We cannot lose. We are also doing it for all the other British promoters who are being bullied right now by them."

Though the UFC confirmed it was in litigation with the ownership of Cage Rage, it declined to offer any response regarding the scope of the suit or Geer's comments.
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