Canadian former Olympic sprinter sues Puma for 'Surin' sneakers

Tue Aug 9, 2016 1:27pm EDT
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MONTREAL (Reuters) - Canadian former sprinter Bruny Surin, part of the gold medal-winning 4x100-meter relay team in the 1996 Summer Olympics, is suing Germany's Puma SE for the name of its "Cell Surin" brand of running shoes, according to court filings from the province of Quebec.

Surin, who helped Canada's relay team upset their American rivals to win the gold during the 1996 Atlanta games, is seeking C$90,000 ($68,576.65) for the unauthorized use of the name from the North American and Canadian divisions of the sportswear maker, according to allegations in a recent court filing.

Surin could change that amount, the filing said, since he does not know how many shoes were sold, or the amount of revenue they generated for Puma.

He also asked the court to order Puma to stop promoting the "Cell Surin" line of clothing and shoes.

Surin, 49, who sells his own line of sports clothing and runs a charitable foundation in Canada, learned about the shoes in June 2015, and contacted Puma, which had never been in touch with him about the sneakers, the filing said. Surin, who is represented by Canadian law firm Lavery de Billy, argued in the filing that the word "surin" doesn't exist in English, while it means "knife" or "blade" in French.

He said in the filing that the shoes were promoted under the slogan: "you move fast."

"The use of the word 'Surin' by Puma created a confusion that would leave one to think that Surin is endorsing Puma along with the product," the French-language filing said. "Surin was contacted by people who believed that Puma's commercialization of 'Cell Surin' was being done in connection with Surin."

Puma sponsors Jamaican sprinter and 100-meter world record holder Usain Bolt, who will compete during the Rio Olympics.

Surin is also in Rio de Janeiro, where he is serving as a track and field commentator for a Canadian TV network.   Continued...