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“Bodybuilding Supplement Maker Sues Mr. Olympia Contest”

“Bodybuilding Supplement Maker Sues Mr. Olympia Contest”

From WSJ – “A company that makes tubs of protein-shake powder for bodybuilders is suing the organizers of the upcoming Mr. Olympia contest to try to block them from making major sponsorship deals with the manufacturer’s competitors.

With its lawsuit, Connecticut-based Ultimate Nutrition Inc. said the organizers of Mr. Olympia—the top U.S. bodybuilding competition, held in Las Vegas—are advertising new sponsorship deals for companies that want their “brand front and center” at the Sept. 17-20 event. Those offers infringe on Ultimate Nutrition’s exclusive sponsorship deal, the company said.

Officials for Ultimate Nutrition, which makes nutritional supplements to enhanced athletic performance and fitness, signed a $626,800 sponsorship contract in May, enabling it to become the “exclusive title sponsor” for a seventh year, according to documents filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Hartford. The deal meant Ultimate Nutrition will have its logo “prominently placed” on the competition’s stage, at the press conference setup and throughout a fitness expo that runs throughout the weekend.

Ultimate Nutrition_Lawsuit_Olympia

The new sponsorship opportunities “substantially undermine the prominence that the Ultimate Nutrition logo is required to be given by Olympia,” Ultimate Nutrition’s lawyers said in court papers. (Event organizers recently named as the event’s “official retail sponsor,” though it is unclear whether Ultimate Nutrition’s lawsuit aims to undo that deal.)

American Media Inc. Chief Executive David J. Pecker, whose company organizes Olympia weekend, defended the deals, stating that he and his organization are “acting within our legal rights.”

“Not only is this lawsuit frivolous, but it demeans the commitment we have to all of our partners in ensuring that the Mr. Olympia provides them an unparalleled platform to engage a passionate and attentive audience,” Mr. Pecker said in a statement.

Mr. Pecker’s company has operated the event for 12 years, growing its popularity to draw roughly 55,000 people last year. Only 12,000 people attended the event in 2004.Arnold Schwarzenegger took the title several times in the 1970s.

Ultimate Nutrition officials said the event will put a spotlight on the company at a crucial point in its history: The 200-worker company filed for bankruptcy on Dec. 17, blaming regulatory scrutiny.

Despite recent profits, Ultimate Nutrition struggled to make up for a $1 million loss in 2012 after having to pay “millions of dollars of one-time temporary labor charges incurred due to labor strife and onerous regulatory requirements,” according to company officials who did not provide more details about the labor charges.

The company was founded in 1979 by Victor Rubino, a former bodybuilder who died in 2003. It is projecting to take in more than $35 million in revenue this year, according to court papers.

Ultimate Nutrition introduced amino acid tablets, protein powders and fat burners in the 1980s and bottled whey protein powders in the 1990s, according to its website.”

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