Lawyers for the city of Pasadena are expected to urge a federal judge Friday to toss a lawsuit brought by the Tournament of Roses Association over rights to the name and trademarks for the Rose Bowl Game.

The Tournament of Roses Association filed the suit in February against the city for alleged trademark infringement, unfair competition, false association, slander and false advertising. The association contends it has full ownership of the “Rose Bowl” and “Rose Bowl Game” trademarks, while the city alleges it shares rights.

Pasadena Mayor Victor Gordo said when the suit was filed that it was “unexpected and unfortunate that our partner for nearly a century has chosen this route.”

Tensions between the parties escalated when restrictions arising from the COVID-19 pandemic caused the cancellation of the annual Rose Parade and barred fans from attending the Rose Bowl Game in Pasadena. The game was ultimately moved to Arlington, Texas, marking the first time since 1942 the Rose Bowl game was played outside of Pasadena.

The Los Angeles federal court lawsuit states that the tournament association invoked the “force majeure” clause of its contract, maintaining that the pandemic was out of its control, so the association had the right to move the game out of Pasadena to AT&T Stadium in Arlington.

Although the dispute originated in the move of the game, a move agreed to by Pasadena, problems have persisted through the city’s “continued insistence that it is the co-owner of the marks and that its consent is necessary” to invoke the contract’s unforeseeable circumstances clause, according to the association.

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