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City of Pasadena Awarded Cost of Attorney Fees Stemming From Tournament of Roses Lawsuit

Published on Friday, March 18, 2022 | 4:40 pm

U.S. District Court Judge André Birotte Jr. has awarded Pasadena $408,923.10 in attorneys’ fees for defending itself against a 2021 Tournament of Roses lawsuit over ownership and control of the “Rose Bowl” and “Rose Bowl Game” trademarks.

Last July, Birotte sided with the city in dismissing all but one of the counts filed by the Tournament in the lawsuit.

In documents filed Thursday, the judge ordered the Tournament to pay the city an amount equal to approximately 90% of the attorneys’ fees the city requested.  

The city said in a statement the order was “vindication for taxpayers who footed this bill defending [Pasadena] against the Tournament’s lawsuit.”  

Read Judge André Birotte Jr.’s Decision Here

Mayor Victor Gordo said he was “pleased the city prevailed on the merits and will be reimbursed for costs to defend ourselves in this unfortunate litigation. We must shift towards working with our long-term partners (ToR) to ensure a successful Rose Bowl Game and Rose Parade for generations to come.  It is now time to put this matter behind us.” 

In a statement Friday afternoon, the Tournament of Roses said that “filing this lawsuit was not something we wanted do, but protecting our brand, trademarks and intellectual property was important to the long-term viability of our Rose Bowl Game.”

“The City’s concession and the Court’s acknowledgment that we own all rights to the Rose Bowl Game and its marks accomplished this goal as we were successful in protecting that intellectual property,” the Tournament said.

The statements issued by both the city and the Tournament each concluded with comments about moving forward together.

“We look forward to putting this phase behind us,” the Tournament said, “and moving forward with our long-standing partnership with the City Officials. At this time, our focus is solely on hosting the best Rose Parade and Rose Bowl Game on Jan. 2, 2023 … for the residents of Pasadena and the world.”

City Councilmember Steve Madison, who sits as the City Council representative on the Rose Bowl Operating Company, added, “I am hopeful that now the parties can move beyond this litigation, shift to celebrating the stadium’s 100th anniversary this summer, and work together toward another 100 years of Rose Bowl Games in the Rose Bowl Stadium.”

The city and the Tournament fell out after restrictions arising from the pandemic caused the cancellation of the 2021 Rose Parade and barred fans from attending the 2021 Rose Bowl Game in Pasadena. The game was ultimately moved by the Tournament to Arlington, Texas, marking the first time since World War II that the Rose Bowl game was played outside of Pasadena.

At that time, the two sides disagreed over the ownership of the game, which led to the lawsuit. 

Judge Birotte dismissed all but one of the counts filed by the Tournament in its February lawsuit for alleged trademark infringement, unfair competition, false association, slander, and false advertising.

After that ruling, the city asked the court for reimbursement for its costs to defend against the lawsuit.

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