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Iron Cowboy responds to Ironman: “I’m done with you”

James Lawrence finishes 64th consecutive full-distance effort

Photo by: ironcowboy.com

Canadian James Lawrence, known to many as the Iron Cowboy, is working towards setting a new record of completing 100 full-distance triathlon efforts (3.8 km swim, 180 km bike and a 42.2 km run) in 100 days, doubling the record he set in 2015 when he completed 50 such efforts in 50 days in 50 different states.

Yesterday he completed his 64th straight day of a full-distance race, and also took the time to respond to a message he received from Ironman asking him to “refrain from talking about your efforts as completing ‘IRONMANS.'”

Lawrence’s post with the following reply has generated almost 15,000 likes since he posted it yesterday:

Hey @ironmantri – I don’t want anything to do with you. Stop sending me emails whilst I’m trying to make history doing an Iron Cowboy distance Tri daily. If you have a problem with media coverage of what we are doing and words they use, please contact them. You guys talk about community, inclusion, doing the impossible. Well, you suck at supporting the one dude who’s been a champion for your brand for close to 15 years. I’m done with you. Now if you don’t mind I’ve got another world record to break today. #suckit
Ps. You owe me $4000+ in race entry


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A post shared by James Lawrence (@ironcowboyjames)

Diluting the distinctive and unique nature of our brand

A page on the Ironman website on Intellectual Property explains that “Ironman” is a brand, not a specific distance:

“It is important to note that IRONMAN® is a brand—it is an identifier of a specific source of goods and services, not an indicator of triathlon distance (i.e., distance should never be denoted as “Ironman distance” or “half Ironman distance”). Using IRONMAN® to reference a specific triathlon distance dilutes the distinctive and unique nature of our brand. The correct generic references for IRONMAN® and IRONMAN 70.3® events are “long-distance triathlon” or “full-distance triathlon” and “half-distance triathlon,” respectively.”

Ironman tattoos … illegal?

In a story titled The Legal Implications of the “IRONMAN” Tattoo: Trademark and Copyright Issues for Athletes posted on the Oyen Wiggs website in 2017, it is pointed out that the thousands of athletes around the world who have tattooed the Ironman logo on their bodies “may be an infringement of the copyright in a logo.”

“However,” the authors continue, “It is arguable that the impugned tattoo may evade infringing copyright for at least one of the following reasons: (i) inferred consent; and (ii) active authorization by the copyright owner.”

“WTC’s Intellectual Property Usage policy prohibits unlicensed use of trademarks and copyright owned by WTC,” the story continues, referring to World Triathlon Corporation (WTC) – the company changed its name to Ironman Group a few years ago. “However, WTC’s website posts numerous articles, entitled “Ink of the Week,” that describe the “M-Dot” tattoos of its participants.  These pages may incarnate a clash between WTC’s legal and marketing departments.  Nevertheless, they arguably provide tattooed athletes with an infringement defence.”