On Feb. 1, 2003, CrossFit Founder and CEO Greg Glassman published “Seniors and Kids” in the CrossFit Journal. In that article, he wrote:
“The most important consideration to make with kids and seniors is to be more patient, celebrate the small gains, work towards mastery of the mechanics of all moves, and practice ‘incrementalism’ – that is, establish a baseline of performance and gently, in tiny increments, move upward.”
In 2005, CrossFit Inc. licensed Jeff and Mikki Martin, affiliate owners with a unique interest in training young athletes, to create an official CrossFit Kids program. This Subject Matter Expert (SME) program was built upon CrossFit’s foundational movements and methodologies tailored specifically for children. Similarly, CrossFit Inc. licensed other SMEs like Mike Burgener to hold CrossFit Weightlifting seminars, and Jeff Martone to hold CrossFit Kettlebell seminars.
Over the following years, the Martins developed a CrossFit Kids Journal, CrossFitKids.com and CrossFit Kids seminars, all through the direction and permission of CrossFit Inc.
In 2010, the Martins were offered employment with CrossFit Inc. and chose to transition from SME status to salaried employee status. This meant all program costs would now be covered by CrossFit Inc., and the Martins would be compensated as program managers of the CrossFit Kids program for CrossFit Inc.
In March 2014, as paid employees of CrossFit Inc., the Martins refused to grant CrossFit Inc. access to the CrossFitKids.com domain and its related email addresses. The Martins asserted they had ownership rights to “CrossFit Kids.”
CrossFit Inc. hoped to avoid an emotionally painful legal battle against the couple many current CrossFit Inc. employees consider good people and good friends. Before the lawsuit was filed, the Martins were presented with several opportunities to discuss their needs and negotiate terms, and ultimately were offered $1 million to regain access and control of the brand name CrossFit Inc. already owned. The Martins chose not to accept this offer.
CrossFit Inc. protects the brand that its 11,000+ affiliates have built their businesses around. For the sake of those affiliates, CrossFit Inc. must exercise control over its intellectual property. Toward this end, in October of this year, CrossFit Inc. filed a lawsuit against the Martins. The suit alleges that the couple is infringing on the CrossFit trademark. CrossFit Inc. wants nothing from the Martins above and beyond rightful access and control of its intellectual property.
The Martins filed counterclaims in which they claim that CrossFit Inc. owes them millions of dollars. This is after having been compensated as SMEs for five years according to the terms of the standard SME license, and then compensated as executive-level employees for four more years.
The Martins have introduced countless people to CrossFit and had immeasurable impact on trainers and young athletes throughout our community. Still, no amount of time as CrossFit Inc.’s licensees or employees would make them owners of “CrossFit Kids.” Seemingly, the Martins had always understood this as they frequently acknowledged in print and otherwise that they were licensees—not owners—of the CrossFit Kids mark. CrossFit Inc.’s intent has never been to harm the Martins. After exhausting all other avenues for reasonable resolution, CrossFit Inc. was faced with point-blank refusal of access and administration over its own domain name, websites, social-media accounts and email accounts, thus had no choice but to file suit to protect the CrossFit brand.