Jake Rossen of ESPN.com has written an interesting article on the origins of the octagonal fighting ring used by the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) since its inception. Greg Patschull, a martial artist who built an octagonal ring for an event prior to UFC’s development of the Octagon, claims that he owns the intellectual property associated with the Octagon.
If true, does Patschull have any legal recourse? Not according to Connecticut’s own Richard Twilley, an intellectual property attorney at McCormick, Paulding & Huber LLP in Hartford.
…according to Connecticut-based patent attorney Richard Twilley, Patschull’s window of opportunity has closed. He had only one year to file for a patent after he unveiled the cage in Irvine.
“If you use something in public for more than a year, or if something is more than a year old and you don’t file patent protection for it, it’s gone,” Twilley said. “And that doesn’t even broach the subject of the statute of limitations. Depending on the state, he should’ve sued by ’96 or ’99. If his focus is on the eight-sided shape of the ring, that ship has sailed.”
[Semaphore Entertainment Group], meanwhile, received a trademark in September 1997 for an “octagon-shaped fighting surface,” a protection that [UFC] inherited. “They filed for trademark incontestability as well,” added Twilley, which he said insulates against virtually all challenges against ownership of the mark.
“If they ever went to a lawsuit and it was this guy versus UFC, I would take my mortgage and I would bet on the UFC,” Twilley said. “I can’t come up with a single legal theory in which he’d have even a puncher’s chance of prevailing.”
Excellent work, Rich. To read Rossen’s article in its entirety, click here.