Pasadena Tournament Of Roses® Moves To Protect Its Historic Rose Bowl Game® And Related Trademarks

The Pasadena Tournament of Roses® Association asked a federal court in California to protect its rights in the tradenames Rose Bowl Game and Rose Bowl.

PHOTO: Tournament of Roses | News | The Tournament House in Pasadena

The Pasadena Tournament of Roses® Association, which for more than 100 years has been nearly synonymous with the annual Rose Parade® and Rose Bowl Game®, today asked a federal court in California to protect its rights in the tradenames Rose Bowl Game and Rose Bowl.

“We are a nonprofit civic organization with hundreds of volunteers and deep roots in Pasadena,” said Executive Director/CEO David Eads. “This is where the parade and the game belong every year, and we have no intention of going anywhere. Unfortunately, the City of Pasadena’s attempt to assert co-ownership in what are indisputably our trademarks threatens to interfere with our ability to carry out even routine business activities, and we have no choice but to get confirmation of our rights by the courts.”

Seeking Clarity

The Pasadena Tournament of Roses Association is a non-profit organization comprising more than 900 volunteers, deeply rooted in Pasadena, California, home to both the parade and the iconic Rose Bowl Stadium, which the Association built and then deeded to the city of Pasadena in 1922. The Association owns the “Rose Bowl Game” trademark and related marks, and usage of the mark, along with other aspects of TOR’s relationship with the city, are spelled out in a Master License Agreement and two additional agreements between the two parties. The MLA requires the Rose Bowl Game to be held in the city’s Rose Bowl Stadium except in the event of a “force majeure” – a legal term generally meaning an event beyond a party’s control which prevents the game from being played at the Rose Bowl Stadium – in which case the Association is permitted to move the game.

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Although the dispute originated in the move of this year’s game to Arlington, Texas as the result of the COVID-19 pandemic, a move agreed to by the city, it has persisted through the city’s continued insistence that it is the co-owner of the marks and that its consent is necessary to invoke the MLA’s “force majeure” clause. While the Association has no plans or desire to move the game in the future – this year was only the second time in history the Rose Bowl Game was played outside Pasadena, the other time being the immediate aftermath of the December 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor – it does need a court’s clarification of its contractual and ownership rights, Eads said.

The case was filed in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California on Feb. 4, 2021 as No. 21-1051.