Adidas Sues Under Armour; Noble Gases and Athletics; Top Pentathlete Out of NCAA

Adidas vs. Under Armour: Patent Infringement

Adidas filed a complaint in federal court on February 4, alleging that Under Armour engaged in patent infringement, in an article that appeared in Runner’s World over the weekend. Adidas owns rights to a fitness monitoring system called miCoach. Under Armour owns rights to MapMyFitness, which allegedly copies substantial similarities of miCoach. The complaint is 748 pages, so expecting to hear a response anytime soon is laughable, at best. The interesting feature about Adidas’ complaint may derive from the fact that Under Armour’s director of innovation and research previously worked at Adidas, and allegedly has knowledge of “Adidas’ patent portfolio.” While the complaint singles out the director in name, the article leaves out on what basis Adidas has. My initial instinct is to believe that the director violated some non-competition clause. Going after a patent infringement case would provide better protection for Adidas’ project; a non-competition clause would likely affect the director as an employee, though. It will be interesting to see how this pans out…if the court ever gets around to reading the behemoth of a document.

Xenon Boosts EPO

If you remember anything from high school chemistry, you may recall the “noble gases” on the periodic table of elements. If you are Russia, allegedly you may know the noble gas Xenon rather intimately. Another article featured in Runner’s World that appeared over the weekend picked up some information from The Economist magazine, which alleges that “Russian athletes have used xenon gas to stimulate Erythropoietin (EPO) to enhance endurance performance.” While the article gives no specifics on which Olympic sports or athletes are in use of Xenon, an unnamed Russian producer claims that it was used to prepare athletes for Olympics in 2004 and 2006 (Summer and Winter, respectively). The is no evidence to suggest that the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has a way to test for xenon, but WADA does prohibit substances that boost EPO. The article describes the process of taking xenon as follows: an athlete breaths in a half xenon, half oxygen mixture right before going to sleep at night. The effect lasts for a few days. It is uncertain what effects xenon has on humans, but animal testing shows an increase in EPO. Again, if you read the article about WADA and its ability to retest samples 10 years down the line, then this article may not seem as daunting or unfair to other professional athletes.

Circumstances Beyond Spenner’s Control Keeps Her From NCAA

An unusual article appeared in Track & Field News last week that is worth publicizing. Sami Spenner, a track and field athlete (pentathlon / heptathlon) of Nebraska-Omaha experienced some of the best-worst situations within the past few years. You can read her whole story via the link provided, but I do want to highlight the general story. Spenner started at Wayne State College aspiring to be a volleyball player in 2009. That did not work out, so she transferred to the University of Nebraska-Omaha (UNO). At the time, UNO was an NCAA Division II institution. She tried out for the track team, earned a spot, and became a Division II All-American in the heptathlon, taking 5th at outdoor nationals in 2010. That summer, her school began the transition from Division II to Division I. Under the NCAA Rules, when a school transitions from a Division II to a Division I program, the athletes cannot participate in post-season competition for 4 years. To circumvent the rule, the athlete would need to transfer institutions. Since the transition process began, Spenner has been rendered ineligible to compete in post-season competitions (e.g. nationals).

Spenner’s initial transfer to UNO was not for athletics, but because of the high quality degree in Exercise Science she pursued. Moreover, Spenner earned a full ride at UNO; while she is a great pentathlete / heptathlete, there are no guarantees that other schools would offer similar full rides. Even if other schools did offer that, the decision to move would be based purely on an athletic decision, not an academic decision. Spenner, then, would be putting athletics before academics, which is in direct contrast with the “student-athlete” mentality the NCAA plasters across all forms of media. It is a difficult situation for sure. Her score of 4406 in the pentathlon currently ranks her #1 in the U.S. and #3 in the world. My advice? Forget the NCAA nationals. Yes, it is prestigious, and yes it is an honor, but so is being a world champion. Continue to train under the same coach and concentrate on making the Indoor and Outdoor World Championships. She’s that great of an athlete that she could pull it off. She can still continue to fight and try to make right what the NCAA did incorrectly. Being a world champion would certainly bring attention to her cause.

Peek, another social media app, promises to bring users and fans even more celebrity news, as if we did not have enough already. What distinguishes Peek from other social media platforms, however, is that “fan products and services” that are part of the application will provide money directly to the celebrity. What is interesting about Peek is that Jamaican Sprinter Asafa Powell signed with Peek, despite his testing positive for illegal substances and keeping him out of competition for a time.

Atos, the French IT service Company, extended its partnership with the International Olympic Committee until 2024, Oman is seeking the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) for official recognition if its annual Al Amerat Challenge Race. SEC Defensive Player of the Year, All-American defensive lineman Michael Sam announced that he is gay, and he could be the first openly gay NFL player in history. I imagine this will be news for quite some time, so forgive me in advance for not posting it frequently.

Finally, the Games officially began! If you are looking for a TV schedule, you can find it clicking this sentence. Do be careful when you are watching the news; sometimes they spoil who wins what medals before the evening broadcast happens, and then you don’t want to watch anything.

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