Tournament of Roses Logo ( Courtesy)

A federal judge today dismissed the Pasadena Tournament of Roses’® lawsuit against the City of Pasadena, noting that the city’s acknowledgment that the Tournament owns the Rose Bowl Game® trademark rendered much of the lawsuit moot.


Moreover, the court left undecided a disagreement over contract language governing the right of the Tournament of Roses to relocate the game in an emergency, a provision known as “force majeure.” The court noted that with no current plans to move the game, there was no reason to rule on the disagreement now.


Through the confirmation of the Tournament’s trademark rights and the preservation of its force majeure rights, “the suit’s main goals were achieved,” Tournament of Roses CEO David Eads said today.


The Tournament had felt compelled to file the suit after city officials contended that the emergency move of the 2021 Rose Bowl Game had violated the Tournament’s contractual obligations. In addition, the city had been wrongly insisting that it co-owns the trademark to the Rose Bowl Game.


In dismissing the Tournament’s request for declaratory relief, Judge André Birotte, Jr., explained that he was dismissing it only because there is no current effort to move the Rose Bowl Game. He did not rule on the Tournament’s key point – that its contract with the City of Pasadena gives it the sole right to move the game in an emergency, known in legal terms as a “force majeure event,” without the city’s permission.


Judge Birotte also ruled that there is no “dispute who actually owns the Rose Bowl Game,” because during the course of the litigation, the city conceded that it has no ownership interest in the trademark which is owned solely by the Association, essentially rendering moot various other aspects of the case.


“When you consider all those factors, we believe the suit achieved its most important purposes,” said Tournament of Roses CEO David Eads. “Our ownership of the Rose Bowl trademarks has been confirmed, and we retain the ability to enforce our rights under the ‘force majeure’ provision if necessary.”


Of course, Eads said, “we hope it never becomes necessary. The Rose Bowl Game has been forced out of Pasadena only twice in its long history, and we hope that never happens again. While it is important that we retain the ability to respond swiftly to emergencies, Pasadena is our home and we expect it to be the home of the Rose Bowl Game for many, many years to come.”