Plank, Repole Face off in Trademark Dispute

Plank's Under Armour sues Repole's BodyArmor for infringement.

Top Thoroughbred owners Kevin Plank and Mike Repole are facing off in court over a high-stakes trademark dispute, the Wall Street Journal reported July 13.

According to the report, Plank's company, Under Armour Inc., alleges a new business venture of Repole's, BodyArmor Nutrition LLC, is exploiting the sports apparel company's brand image while infringing upon trademark rights including name, logo, and marketing.

Repole co-owns the new sports beverage business with a main product billed as a nutritional "super drink." Under Armour said there are too many similarities to their own line of bottled water, launched in 2005.

Repole's company called the lawsuit in federal court in Baltimore a "prime example of trademark bullying by a corporate giant," the Journal reported.

Baltimore-based Under Armour, founded by Plank in 1996, has more than 5,000 employees and made $1.5 billion in sales last year. BodyArmor, based in Los Angeles, has 55 full-time employees and made about $1.8 million after hitting shelves last year.

"Intellectual property laws are designed to protect innovators from imitators," Under Armour's vice president of communications Diane Pelkey said in a statement to the Journal. "The fact that our brand image is being exploited validates the unfortunate need for this lawsuit."

Repole is the former president of Energy Brands Inc., the company that manufactures VitaminWater and SmartWater and was acquired by Coca-Cola for $4.1 billion in 2007. He is also top shareholder in Pirate's Booty, an all-natural snack company, as well as the healthy fast-food restaurant chain Energy Kitchen. His partner in BodyArmor, Lance Collins, founded Fuze beverage and NOS energy drinks, sold to Coca-Cola in 2007 for an undisclosed amount.

"No one is going to confuse an apparel company with a beverage company," Repole told the Journal. "We're going to fight this."

Plank is the owner of Sagamore Farm, a Maryland racing entity that raced 2011 Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Turf (gr. I) winner Shared Account. Repole's Repole Stable campaigned 2010 champion 2-year-old male Uncle Mo  and is represented this year by top runners such as 2011 Travers Stakes (gr. I) winner Stay Thirsty  and 2012 True North Handicap (gr. II) victor Caixa Eletronica.