McDermott London puts up Ultimate Fight in High Court

The London office of McDermott Will & Emery has won the lead role on a High Court trademark dispute over the rights to the Ultimate Fighting Championship name.

McDermott is advising Zuffa, the parent company of the Ultimate Fighting Championship, on its dispute with Cage Rage.

Zuffa alleges that UK company Cage Rage infringed its trademark by organising fights using the Ultimate Fighting name.

US company Zuffa opened a London office last year to promote Ultimate Fighting in the UK, sending a US lawyer to the capital.

McDermott won the work through a competitive tender after a partner in McDermott’s Silicon Valley office recommended the firm’s London office for IP litigation.

London IP head Larry Cohen said: “We still had to pitch for the work. You don’t get it handed to you on a plate.

“Since then we’ve been trying to clean up all the people that have jumped on the Ultimate Fighting bandwagon.”

Zuffa set up Ultimate Fighting matches in the UK last year, covered by television channels Sky Sports and Setanta.

Since then the company has sought to crack down on any other organisations using the Ultimate Fighting name.

Cohen said: “We wrote to Cage Rage and they failed to respond adequately, so we sued them. It’s a passing off and trademark infringement action.”

Orchard Brayton Graham is advising Cage Rage, instructing Andrew Norris of Hogarth Chambers. McDermott has instructed 8 New Square’s John Baldwin QC and Henry Ward.

McDermott will handle the case without IP litigation partner Duncan Curley, who left the firm this month to set up his own IP consultancy.

Ultimate Fighting pits fighters against each other in an octagonal ring and features a mixture of martial arts.