12/17/19 — For immediate release — Columbus, Ohio
A federal court jury awarded a $1.25 million verdict to Max Rack, Inc., a Central Ohio developer and designer of the sports-industry recognized Max Rack® self-spotting weightlifting workout system, against Core Health & Fitness LLC, a Vancouver, WA based sport equipment conglomerate for trademark infringement, unfair competition, mismarking equipment and other business law violations.
The suit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio in 2016, after a dispute over the terms of a long-standing licensing agreement. Core Health had terminated the agreement yet continued to market using the Max Rack® design and name. The case is Max Rack, Inc. v. Core Health & Fitness, LLC.
The Max Rack® free weight workout system has provided safety mechanisms for individuals using weight lifting equipment without the protection of a spotter or trainer, since 1997. During that time, Max Rack® became a widely recognized and respected name by weight lifting enthusiasts and the fitness industry. From 2010 until 2016, Core Health had manufactured and distributed Max Rack® systems after purchasing the previous licensee.
Core Health, corporate parent who markets recognized sporting equipment trademarks including; Star Trac, Schwinn, Nautilus, and Stairmaster, "chose to violate the valuable Max Rack® trademark by failing to respect its own licensing agreements," according to Kirt Moritz, president of Max Rack, Inc. In addition, Core Health attempted to confuse purchasers of the Max Rack® by renaming the Star Trac Max Rack® the Nautilus "Freedom Rack" while maintaining the distinctive Max Rack® design and simultaneously using the Max Rack® trademark.
Max Rack was represented at the four-day trial by local attorneys Matt Schonauer of Dunham IP Law and Joseph Okuley of Ashley, Ohio. The jury deliberated seven hours, at one point asking the court whether they could award a non-numerical amount, such as "plus attorney fees." After the Court responded that it had the discretion to award attorney fees under the trademark Lanham Act, a final verdict was reached. The Court has set a briefing schedule for a hearing on an expected permanent injunction. "The next step will determine whether enhanced damages and attorney fees should be awarded to Max Rack," Schonauer said.
"We think the jury understood that Core Health was trying to confuse the public by using both the Max Rack and Freedom names interchangeably while marketing the exact same equipment, therefore damaging the Max Rack® brand," Okuley said. "The right side won this one."