A battle between rally racer Ken Block and Mad Media, the company that co-produced the first three of Block’s famous Gymkhana drifting videos, is flaring after Block sued the firm.
His dispute hinges on Mad Media‘s registration, use and subsequent profit from registering the Gymkhana.com domain name. Jalopnik published a story discussing the lawsuit, after which Block replied in the comments section, saying:
“Mad Media did not own the URL gymkhana.com prior to being hired by us. They purchased this URL while working for us. This is the part we find extremely unethical. When you hire any company to work for you, it is expected that they will not try to steal from you and build something from your creative project.
Imagine the Internet as we know it today existed when George Lucas created Star Wars and the sub-contractor, which 20th Century Fox hired to film the movie, registered the the URL starwars.com while producing the film – then tried to profit off it without the consent and knowledge of George Lucas and 20th Century Fox. Would that be ethical? “Star” and “Wars” are both common terms, but Lucas’ use of it has forever changed what they mean, and said company would be profiting off of this meaning…”
Mad Media’s argument is that gymkhana is a sport and that Block doesn’t have the right to restrict how anyone uses the word. The website also has a disclaimer at the bottom saying: “this gymkhana.com 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 fact still remains that Block owns the trademark for Gymkhana, further weighing the odds in his favor.
The site links to content specific to Block including his most recent video: Gymkhana Five. While the argument that a site shouldn’t be restricted from reporting on a sport, the issue delves into both freedom of speech and conflict of interest questions because, as Block wrote, Mad Media didn’t own the domain until after it was hired for the videos it helped to produce.
For now, both sides seem committed to fighting it out in court which almost guarantees a series of bloody updates on this story.