Fitness Gurus Spar Over Mini-Trampoline

     (CN) – Madonna’s personal trainer did not have permission to use a patented mini-trampoline in her workout video, the inventor says in federal court.
     J.B. Berns created the Urban Rebounder mini-trampoline for low-impact cardio workouts, according to the complaint filed by his company, Urban Group Exercise Consultants, in Manhattan.
     The Urban Rebounder has allegedly been used in various nationwide research studies and featured by Allure and USA Today, among other outlets.
     Its patented design includes a yellow outline surrounding the jumping mat and a blue protective fold skirt bearing Urban Group’s trademark.
     Urban Group says that in 2008, Madonna “was adamant that the Urban Rebounder be the only mini-trampoline delivered to her home.”
     “Madonna insisted that she used the Urban Rebounder for its design spec and quality and would not use an inferior product,” according to the 25-page complaint.
     Urban Group says its product is also used by Tracy Anderson, a personal trainer who works with Madonna and other celebrities, including Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Aniston and Shakira.
     But Anderson allegedly started selling a Rebounder that she branded with her own name in 2010. The Tracy Anderson Rebounder is similar in shape to the Urban Rebounder, but is entirely black and bears a pink logo, the complaint states.
     Urban Group says Anderson then released a series of mini-trampoline workout videos in March 2011.
     “The mini-trampoline used in the workout DVD is the Urban Rebounder, with its precise yellow outline surrounding its jumping mat but without its blue protective fold skirt bearing plaintiff’s trademark,” according to the complaint.
     On her website, however, Anderson allegedly directs clients to use the Tracy Anderson Rebounder while using her workout DVDs.
     “Not all trampolines will work,” the website states, as quoted in the complaint. “You need the Tracy Anderson Rebounder trampoline for this series of DVDs.”
     Urban Group therefore claims that Anderson’s use of the Urban Rebounder in her videos will cause public confusion, in that viewers may think that Urban Group has permitted or even willfully sponsored said use of its product.
     “Because both Berns and Anderson are notable figures in the fitness industry, both the general public and those involved in the trade industry may be confused as to the extent of plaintiff’s relationship with defendant,” the complaint states. “Particularly, whether traders or consumers are buying a mini-trampoline from Anderson while expecting plaintiff’s Urban Rebounder and not a different or inferior product.”
     Urban Group further claims that Anderson’s video “willfully misrepresents” the nature of the Urban Rebounder. “By removing the skirt, plaintiff’s Urban Rebounder materially loses part of its uniqueness and amounts to misrepresentation in the workout DVD in a material respect,” the complaint states.
     “Additionally, much like a bait and switch tactic, defendant’s use of the Urban Rebounder in the workout DVD may deceive the public into purchasing Anderson’s Rebounder simply by viewing Anderson’s use of plaintiff’s product,” Urban Group adds.
     Although Urban Group licenses its Rebounder for other videos or exercise services, it says it has not reached any formal agreement with Anderson.
     “As such, Anderson’s continued unpermitted and non-compensating use of plaintiff’s Urban Rebounder has infringed on the goodwill of plaintiff’s brand, which it has worked diligently to establish over the last twelve years, to allow customers to associate the high level of quality in the Urban Rebounder with plaintiff, the product’s specific origin,” the complaint states.
     In light of Anderson’s alleged infringements of the Trademark Act and unfair competition laws, Urban Group seeks $5 million in damages, as well as permanent injunction against the sale of Anderson’s workout DVD.
     Urban Group is represented by Bruce Colfin.

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