Decathlon and Pentathlon — at their root are Greek words. While the latter finds its origin in ancient Greek Olympics, a modern-day version still plays out at the Olympics, where the athlete has to compete in five sports events. The modern Decathlon is also inspired by the ancient Pentathlon and sees athletes competing in ten different sporting events. Today, we find both names at the heart of a lawsuit.
Decathlon Sports India has filed a trademark infringement suit against NCR-based Pentathlon Sports. Decathlon says that its legal action is to stop Pentathlon Sports from “illegal and mala fide acts of inter alia of infringement of the registered trademark of the Plaintiff No I (Decathlon), selling substandard products in the market and passing them off as goods/ products of the Plaintiffs (Decathlon).”
The suit further says that Pentathlon copied their trademarked tagline, Sports for All / All for Sports.
France-based Decathlon, which has over 70 stores in India, makes five points to substantiate its claim.
> Pentathlon uses the same colour scheme and font for its trademark as Decathlon
> Pentathlon italicised the same letter in the name just like in the Decathlon trademark.
> Decathlon’s ‘Sports For All / All For Sports’ is the same as Pentathlon’s ‘Sports for Everyone and Everyone for Sports’ tagline.
> The concept of the Pentathlon as a name appears to be identical with that of the Decathlon.
> Decathlon Sports India also says in the suit that Pentathlon Sports, which has three retail stores, in the NCR region, has caused them “irreparable loss”.
Speaking to TNM, Vijay Kumar Rana, founder of owner of Pentathlon Sports India rejects all the points raised in the suit. He says that the font and the colour scheme used in their logo isn’t similar to Decathlon’s.
Regarding the point of the italicised ‘A’ in both Pentathlon and Decathlon trademarks, Rana claimed that while Decathlon has both ‘C’ and ‘A’ as cursive and is combined, Pentathlon only has ‘A’ in cursive.
Rana points to the tennis ball iconography in Pentathlon’s logo in place for ‘O’ as differentiating his logo from Decathlon’s.
When it comes to Pentathlon’s tagline ‘Sports for Everyone and Everyone for Sports’, Rana claimed there is sufficient differentiation in the tagline due to his use of ‘Everyone’ instead of ‘All’. Decathlon alleged the contrary in their lawsuit and said it is “deceptively similar to registered trademarks DECATHLON and 'DECATHLON Sport for All / All for Sport which is also the tagline of the Plaintiff No. I (Decathlon) with the intent of creating a subtle yet deliberate association with the goodwill subsisting in the trademarks belonging to the Plaintiff No 1”.
Decathlon’s lawsuit also says that “Defendant (Pentathlon) is clearly banking on the reputation of the Plaintiff No.1 (Decathlon) to pass off its sub-standard and inferior goods as those of the Plaintiff No.1 (Decathlon).
Rana however says that they sell products of brands such as Yonex, Wilson, Head, Nike and Indian ones such as Cosco and Nivea, alongside self-branded cricket accessories.
According to Rana, the idea behind Pentathlon, which they have been working on for the past four years, was to bring different sporting brands under one roof. This, he claims, is a major point of distinction between them and Decathlon. “Decathlon mostly sells their own brands which you can find only in Decathlon,” he says.
Rana says that he is not ready to compromise over the brand name. “There is no meaning in compromising with Decathlon on our brand, our brand Pentathlon is under the registration process with the registrar of trademark”.
In a statement, Decathlon said, “Given this is a case of IP violation, we have taken appropriate legal remedial measures. As the matter is currently sub-judice, we are unable to provide any further details at this stage.”
The matter will come up for hearing on March 22 at District Court, Ghaziabad.