Use of F3 Trademarks

PAX of F3,

This post intends to answer questions about what is considered permissible use of the F3 logo, name, and other marks of F3 Nation, LLC and/or The Iron Project. As always, I invite you to send feedback and questions to ap@f3nation.com.

 

The bottom line up front (BLUF): If you would like to use the F3 logo, the name “F3,” or “Fitness, Fellowship and Faith” on any item — for sale, for marketing, or simply for your own region/personal use — you must follow our guidelines. This includes obtaining approval from F3 Marketing, and using the F3 Gear Store (operated by MudGear) to produce any item that has F3 marks. Only items that do not contain these F3 marks may be produced on your own using local resources. See guidelines below. The first step to gain approval for any use of the F3 logo is to email marketing@f3nation.com.

Overview of F3 Marks

Legally, F3Nation has articles of incorporation, a copyright and a registered trademark, and various other legal arrangements that are required simply to have what we have at the scale we have it. The trademarks, registered and otherwise include:

  • The term “F3”
  • The phrase “Fitness, Fellowship and Faith”
  • The logo, represented with a circle with the F3 in military style font within

The reasons for having such documents are numerous.

F3 is and has always been free of charge. The marks represent the core principles, our credo, and our mission. The marks are the only tangible and owned asset we use officially to certify various items as showing authenticity, generating funds to operate or expand, promoting consistency across our growing reach, following sales tax laws, and managing risk.

As a trademark owner, it is incumbent on F3 to be consistently vigilant about policing the use of said mark(s) regardless of the overhead it may cause to F3. As you may know, failure to do so risks the trademark losing the ability to indicate the source of the goods or services in question, thereby losing rights in the trademark itself.

Overview of our Relationship with MudGear

The production of F3 T-shirts, hats, glasses, custom flags, and other things with F3 logos started simply.

The June 2011 Spartan Super team wanted team t-shirts, for which OBT collected money to cover expenses and handed them out from the trunk of his car. When guys saw the gear, momentum grew so quickly that a gear team formed. Collecting cash or PayPal using spreadsheets doesn’t scale, which ultimately led to a need for better processes and operations.

Malko subsequently stepped up to create a separate LLC to manage the creation of product, sales, required tax collection and remittance, and distribution related processes for F3 Gear. He grew the original third-party gear to include creation of his own brand of outdoor fitness gear, which he named MudGear, that started with our PAX and extended to outdoor athletes nationwide. He has turned MudGear into a full-time business that now operates as an independent entity but holds serving F3 Pax as part of its core mission. Then and today, MudGear involves many other F3 PAX as suppliers and partners (including Chief in F3 Race City who does most printing and shipping of F3 Gear).

Since 2012 and as a direct result of excellent execution and commitment, MudGear has and continues to be the sole seller of gear that contains the F3 trademarks. This contract includes not just the F3 logo, but any and all regional gear/logos that contains any of the F3 trademarks.

This arrangement has many benefits, including a dedicated online store with shipping to individual PAX in all regions (simplifying distribution), management of obtaining F3 marketing approvals, quality assurance over brand standards, centralized customer service including returns and exchanges and management of all sales tax liabilities. As is shown on every order, F3 Nation also receives a percentage of all sales.

Confusion and Clarification around Marketing

Sometimes the phrase, “A portion of all sales benefits F3 Nation,” which The Gear Store notes, gets translated to “the Nation polices the logo and marks to take in money.”

Before we go any further, yes again there is a reciprocal arrangement that helps fund F3 Nation legal, tax, financial, and other obligations (like this website). None of this should be a surprise to anyone running a regional site or AO or a business or even leading a small organization within their personal community.

There is much more to managing our trademarks responsibly, however.

We have a group of volunteers we call “F3 Marketing,” and they help the Nation by reviewing and approving anything that is associated with the above F3 marks for any reason. This practice is generally done in partnership with a region wanting a shirt, yet there are other examples too such as licensing its use to an agreed-upon non-profit F3 Nation or a region wants to support.

It may sound silly to state given how much you’ve seen the simple F3 logo, but we’ve seen that very same logo manipulated pretty badly. We’ve seen it obscured, overlapped, turned into different fonts, etc.

Keep in mind that logo is our symbol — whether you’ve thought about it or not — to everyone that “this (shirt, object, flag, etc. bearing the logo) is part of the free network of men’s workouts.” The group that Dredd and OBT started and will always be free workouts. If it has a pitchfork through the circle, that’s not the spirit of our community. Consistency is part of how it has grown organically.

This consideration and handling of the logo (and gear) has been informed and evolved over time, and we believe that each of us across all PAX in all regions — not just some ivory tower — is responsible for maintaining these roots and use of what we have been given. And, as mentioned above, it is our duty as F3 Nation to protect the trademark.

Said more simply, workouts have been, are, and will alway be free. Those marks represent that regardless of if you (always optionally) decide you want to buy one on a coozie.

The Local Printer or Usage

Now, back to said gear.

From time to time, we do hear of a #HIM from a region printing or creating something that is outside the guidelines or uses the marks without permission. Generally, we find he wants to have a man in his own PAX do the work, as it’ll save a few bucks or give local business to a man he knows can benefit directly.

So if we happen to ask about it, one of us will hear something to the effect of, “well, I saw this region or this person or this group with logos or gear that didn’t meet these guidelines… why can’t we do that?” Or… if they ask first and we state our guidelines, we will hear, “We’re even asking permission!”

As a practical matter, please keep in mind that the Nation can not nor does not want to police everything related to the mark or marketing but we do so, as noted above. (Selfishly, this now falls into my purview moreseo and this is the least of the activities I can do to help benefit the Nation.) There’s literally not enough reach or time to do this at scale in a volunteer organization with a small team, so someone who talks to us is simply trying to help the greater good.

Another point — as an entity with marks and gear — is to reiterate that F3 has sales tax liabilities. MudGear takes care of this administration for F3 Nation as part of our aforementioned agreement.

Because of these complexities of agreements, taxes and laws, this obligation is a main driver to us for keeping gear sales centralized. If you are selling the same mark outside of the agreement, there’s an implied risk that states could come seeking that additional revenue. And they are more likely to go after the parent organization than the sub-regions.

That said, we do know many of you want to stay local, so let’s clarify an option.

A Way To Use Local

Using the above as background, here is an approach I hope makes sense to everyone.

If you use the logo, the name “F3,” or “Fitness, Fellowship and Faith” on anything that is for sale, you must use the MudGear store. If you use these marks for something that is NOT for sale, still we will need to protect the F3 marks presentation through approval by the F3 Marketing group.

Again, we do this via both our philosophy of authentic and organic growth, plus we are legally obligated.

Where you have room is your regional logo. If you do not have any of the F3 marks in your logo, you also own the rights and can use it wherever you go.

Let’s use Area 51 as an example. In their alien logo, there is zero use use of the words F3 or “Fitness, Fellowship and Faith” within. If they want to make a flag with the alien or sell stickers with just an alien on it, that is a right the region owns.

Would we prefer you use our store even if you want to print something without the F3 logo? Yes, as we’ve mentioned above for multiple reasons.

But will we police that practice around the region logo if it lacks the F3 marks? Nope.

Hopefully this helps clarify some of our thinking. We are all in this together, and we have these guidelines so that we can continue to #GiveItAway to other men.

Again, please feel free to email me directly if you have questions or suggestions on making this easier to understand.

— AP