Even before the start of International Fight Week, UFC’s lawyers came out swinging.
UFC owner Zuffa LLC obtained a temporary restraining order from U.S. District Court on June 28 that will help shut down vendors selling souvenirs that allegedly infringe on UFC trademarks. Further, UFC officials can accompany U.S. marshals, who have the power to break into containers to seize pirated clothing, posters and other merchandise.
"We will have a team out there enforcing this during the events," said Lawrence Epstein, Zuffa’s executive vice president and general counsel. He did not specify how many people UFC will have combing the streets near fight venues.
International Fight Week started Tuesday and runs through Saturday as a way to draw and keep visitors during the mid-week holiday.
The court order allows UFC to go after vendors within a 10-mile radius of a match venue six hours before and after a fight starts.
While the idea of a pre-emptive legal strike is not new, it rarely comes up despite the numerous mass market events that regularly dot the Las Vegas calendar. Epstein said the last time he could remember taking this tactic was for the boxing match between Oscar De La Hoya and Felix Trinidad in 1999.
UFC officials have noticed that the same vendors appear at numerous events, so they decided to attempt stronger action, Epstein said.
He said UFC also maintains a media room to monitor websites that illicitly post pay-per-view videos of the match and try to pull them down. On June 8, UFC filed a federal lawsuit against unnamed John Doe defendants but has not moved to obtain any enforcement orders.