When we say "gymkhana," what comes to mind? If it's the drift maestro Ken Block, then you understand the crux of a lawsuit by Block against the former producers of his popular video series. If you go to Gymkhana.com, you'll find all sorts of photos, videos, and links related to the sport. What you'll find very little mention of, is Ken Block, himself. Why? Because Block does not own the website's URL, even though he officially owns the trademark.

According to a Jalopnik interview with the stunt driver, Block learned of the site when a colleague was approached by its owners, Mad Media, who were hoping to sell advertising. Mad Media is the crew who produced a few of Block's early (and insanely popular) drifting videos, and the Ford Fiesta pilot says he was very surprised to find out that they owned the Gymkhana URL. When Block reached out to Josh Martelli of Mad Media, Block says he was basically told to go pound sand.

Martelli was also interviewed for the story, and he notes, "The automotive sport of gymkhana has been around since the 1900s... no one has the right to prevent the public from using the word gymkhana to report on, discuss, or promote the sport – especially on a website."

While he may be a little off-base on his history (in the 1900s, gymkhana was an equestrian sport), Martelli brings up an interesting point. The name and the driving discipline of gymkhana very much predates the Internet, but on the other hand, no 4-H video has ever garnered 160 million views on YouTube. Additionally, no single person is as strongly associated with the success of the sport as Block, and the relevance of Mad Media in this arena can largely be attributed to the vision of Block and his unique skill set.

For now, it looks like both sides are willing to drag out a costly lawsuit for the URL rights. Both will likely cite lofty causes for rallying around this flag, but at the end of the day, there is a decent amount of ad revenue to be made from the site, too.


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  • 19 Comments
      Masschine
      • 2 Years Ago
      Ralph Lauren sued the U.S> Polo Association of it's use of the word Polo for it's magazine and won. While it was overturned never underestimate the potential idiocy of the judicial system anywhere.
      keivmx
      • 2 Years Ago
      Ken Block is nothing more than a prima donna poser. Gymkhana is a time attack--not the ballet dance he has made it out to be. Sebastian Loeb has accomplished more in his sleep last night than Ken Block will in his entire career.
      Reality33
      • 2 Years Ago
      Well this is a little ridiculous. He may be popular due to You Tube videos, but Gymkhana has been and is a major auto sport especially in Japan where it is FIA / JAF sanctioned. This has been around for a very long time and I remember watching Gymkhana videos of Japanese drivers running the courses on videos back in the 90's.
      ScottK
      • 2 Years Ago
      that is true, block and his douche bag crew, try to own every word, even hooning, when i saw hoonigan, i was shocked that they took that word. which is why i will never buy the products they push.
      Andre Neves
      • 2 Years Ago
      Reminds me of several years ago when Walmart tried to trademark the smiley face. Ken Block is an idiot.
      jcar302
      • 2 Years Ago
      Sorry ken, love your driving and videos, but you are losing this lawsuit.
      ELG
      • 2 Years Ago
      It doesnt matter how popular KB's videos are, he didnt invent gymkhana and the term doesnt belong to him. what a moron
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
      ablogreadr
      • 2 Years Ago
      who was the idiot that allowed block to trademark "gymkhana" ?
        ELG
        • 2 Years Ago
        @ablogreadr
        same kind of clueless idiots who work in the patent office
      ELG
      • 2 Years Ago
      ive got some videos of me autocrossing, so im trademarking the term
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        jeff
        • 2 Years Ago
        The day you win as many rally races as block is the day your opinion that he cant drive will be taken seriously. I'd like to see you be able to have the kind of car control he has.
      nwAdamR
      • 2 Years Ago
      Don't let Ken hear you call him a "stunt driver".
        cyberjeepkp
        • 2 Years Ago
        @nwAdamR
        He's not a drifter either... hate that they use the word "drifting" in this article. There is no drifting just bs driving.
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