Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Intellectual Property and the Firefighter Combat Challenge®

If imitation is the greatest form of flattery, we should be flattered. But, there's something a bit more sinister afoot here. The proliferation of “knock-offs” is having a deleterious effect on the quality of our brand, and its associated trademarks and copyrights. Unfortunately, there are less scrupulous people who ignore Intellectual Property (IP) rights, business ethics, and rules-based conventions that have been developed over decades.

Most recently, our Title Sponsor, Scott Fire and Safety was acquired by 3M. 3M is an international company with thousands of patents and trademarks. They appreciate the value of the Challenge, and like us, vigorously protect their IP. Imagine for a moment that someone would create an adhesive tape and call it “Scotch Tape™”. This brazen act would not go unnoticed and orders to cease and desist would follow through legal challenges.

Since our creation of the Challenge, there has been pirating of our Intellectual Property virtually around the globe. There is no form of firefighter testing or competition using a tower that has not been a derivative of our original creation. The Challenge was the work product of years of applied research in the fields of exercise science and occupational and environmental physiology.
If you were to ask any of these imitators for an overview of their professional background in creating from their own imagination the origins of what they’re doing, I sincerely doubt that they would be able to provide a believable response.

Our tower, the prototype, was a huge investment in design, engineering and construction. There’s not another tower in use anywhere in the world that was not based upon our copyrighted blueprints. Unfortunately, with thousands of photographs and videos on YouTube, it’s not very hard to steal another person’s creations.

To protect our brand, we have registered our trademarks, and enforce our IP in the US and the EU. As a small business, it is an expensive process to seek protection everywhere, especially in countries that do not recognize IP. We, therefore, appreciate your support of us- the one true Firefighter Combat Challenge and our shared interests through licensing agreements.

It is not our intention to punish the imitators, but to standardize the Firefighter Combat Challenge throughout the world and to raise the consciousness to the fact that there is only one Firefighter Combat Challenge. As the Challenge grows and develops internationally, enforcing the rules and procedures are imperative. It is this standardization that makes performance on the course objective and valid. For example, the term “World Record” has meaning throughout our 28 years of existence, because the course is the same throughout the world.

To this end, we have licensed organizers to compete on standardized Firefighter Combat Challenge® courses as part of an international league similar to FIFA, and we provide consulting services to establish and maintain standards within the fire service for those who need/want them, and to ensure that local records have currency.
In Sacramento, California, October 21-7, 16 nations and nearly 500 firefighters competed on the “Official Course.” It is my intention to promote and enforce the 3M | Scott Fire and Safety brand, providing a meaningful and standardized platform for performance, recognized the world around.

Paul O. Davis, Ph.D., FACSM

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