Block sues over gymkhana rights

Originally Published: August 28, 2012
By Keith Hamm | ESPN.com

Ken BlockDC ShoesKen Block claims a media company used the 'gymkhana' name and continued a web site without his approval.

Sitting in the legal crosshairs of this year's X Games RallyCross silver medalist Ken Block and his Gravel Farms Racing company, a Southern California media and marketing company is facing a lawsuit over its creation and operation of a website dedicated to gymkhana and other motorsport news.

Oceanside-based Mad Media, which co-produced and directed the first three of Block's viral online GYMKHANA videos, "flagrantly disregarded its legal and ethical obligations and the accepted standards of professional conduct by registering the domain name GYMKHANA.COM to usurp [Block's] legitimate business opportunities[,] unfairly competing with their ... former client," according to the complaint, filed late last month in U.S. District Court.

"This case is about Ken going to this media company and working with them, and them taking advantage of their access to him and gymkhana and trying to steal that name for themselves," Block's lawyer Mike Friedland told ESPN.com.

Contacted via email, Mad Media COO Joshua Martelli referred to the lawsuit as "completely without merit."

The complaint further claims that Mad Media didn't even know about gymkhana -- a high-performance motorsport involving drifting, spinning and reversals through an obstacle-laden course -- until it was hired to help make those videos, and that the creative firm is breaching its contract with the DC Shoes co-founder by further profiting from their former business relationship.

Block, who reportedly owns the trademark for gymkhana, is asking for compensatory damages and that the website be transferred into his name. He could not be reached for comment.

Friedland would not specify how much those damages could total.

At GYMKHANA.COM -- a showcase of racing news and "precision automotive driving" -- a disclaimer reads, "This ... website does not originate from, is not affiliated, connected, or associated with, and is not sponsored or approved by Ken Block or DC Shoes."

The court's deadline for Mad Media's response is Sept. 7.

Keith Hamm

Action Sports

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