Running into trouble: Two Brooklyn half-marathons clash over confusing names

If you ask about the "Brooklyn Half Marathon," the response you get might be "Which one?"

The confusion over the two half-marathons, run within just weeks of each other, has led to a 22-page federal lawsuit filed the New York Road Runners back in mid-February.

The first half-marathon, the NYCRUNS Brooklyn Half Marathon saw over 21,000 runners take to the streets on Sunday, April 28, and is organized by the Brooklyn-based running organization NYCRuns.

The second event, the RBC Brooklyn Half, is expected to see 25,000 runners take part and is hosted by the New York Road Runners, best known for putting on the annual TCS New York City Marathon.

The lawsuit by NYRR alleges trademark infringement, citing several instances of confused runners causing a mix-up in race registration.

"That’s really what trademark law is about. This is a consumer protection method. Trademarks are designed to protect consumers against confusion in the marketplace," said Kristin Roberts, a trademark and copyright lawyer.

According to Roberts, runners' confusion is a strong suit for the case.

The suit claims NYC Runs Inc. is misleading consumers and capitalizing on the goodwill in the Brooklyn Half makes by offering its own half marathon running event under the trademarks ‘Brooklyn Half Marathon and Brooklyn Marathon and Half Marathon.'

"It sort of creates this question as to whether or not either of these marks is strong to begin with," Roberts tells FOX 5.

The suit also alleged inadequately staffed and poorly organized races hosted by NYC Runs Inc. has the potential to damage NYRR’s reputation—as it aims to stop any further use of the name.