Miss Universe Co. Slaps Crown-Maker with Trademark Infringement Suit

The producer of the annual Miss Universe pageant is suing the Prague-based company hired to make the winners' "iconic" crowns, saying it kept promoting its association with the New York-headquartered pageant even after it breached its 10-year sponsorship agreement. 

IMG Universe, whose parent company bought the pageant from Donald Trump in 2015, filed suit against Diamonds International Corp (“DIC”) on Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, citing trademark infringement. According to IMG's complaint, it terminated DIC’s contract in August 2016 after financial problems caused the crown company to miss two required payments, totaling $190,000. (The parties' deal required DIC to supply the crown and a sponsorship fee to IMG on an annual basis). That, however, that did not stop the company from asserting that the parties were still, in fact, affiliated. 

According to IMG’s complaint, despite formally severing the parties’ ties, DIC has continued to advertise its connection to the pageant, including on its website, where it has prominently displayed its logo atop the Miss Universe name. Such usage of the Miss Universe trademarks, which are, per the complaint, "famous and distinctive," was done with the specific intent to deceive the public and cause "substantial and irreparable harm" to the pageant.

The lawsuit seeks over $2 million in actual damages, treble (or triple) damages for the alleged trademark infringement, and unspecified damages for breaching the sponsorship agreement, which was to run from 2015 to 2024, according to Reuters