Litigate With The Fallen | Simply Ranked

Plus: Big John, Barney's big trick, become a director of action sports digital content today, and more.

Litigate With The Fallen | Simply Ranked
The definitive weekly ranking and analysis of all the skateboarding and other online things that I cannot stop consuming and how they make me feel, personally.

Litigate With The Fallen

Rank: 1
Mood: 👩‍⚖️

Noted golfing dingus Phil Mickelson and LIV Golf League, his partners in sportswashing for the Saudi Arabian government, may have finally met their match — in court. Who is the righteous plaintiff filling their humble slingshot with stones to take down the authoritarian petrostate giant as it continues its rampaging worldwide influence campaign with its club-swinging lackey in tow? It’s none other than Cool Brands Supply! Cool Brands have filed a federal trademark infringement lawsuit against LIV Golf and its HyFlyers GC1 team, which Mickelson captains. The complaint claims that the golfer’s team and PRO tour adopted a logo that is “nearly identical” to the logo of one of Cool Brands’ brands.

Image via Golf Digest’s Instagram.

Not familiar with Cool Brands Supply? They’re the Argentine company that owns Fallen Footwear. I reached the owner and CEO of Fallen, Ronnie Mazzei, via email to get some insight into Cool Brands and their suit against Mickelson’s team and LIV Golf.

“Cool Brands Supply is [the] parent company of Town Connection SA. Cool Brands owns all of the Fallen Footwear trademarks, which it licenses to Town Connection SA, the operating entity. Fallen Footwear is one of our brands and currently is distributed in 50 countries (including the United States). We also have a physical presence in San Diego… Spain… and in Hong Kong.” Mazzei explained.

Town Connection was originally a Fallen brand licensee for the Argentine market. When the footwear and apparel brand shuttered in 2016, Cool Brands and Town Connection worked to acquire the company and its trademarks, eventually relaunching the brand in 2019. A few years later, HyFlyers GC changed their logo ahead of the 2023 LIV Golf season to what looks to be a blatant rip-off of Fallen’s back-to-back F’s logo, which has been trademarked since 2003.

Mazzei said he first became aware of the HyFlyer’s logo when Mickelson posted a promotional video to his Instagram in February. But it wasn’t until the Masters in Augusta in April that things came to a head. “We started getting a ton of inquiries about whether we started a golf line, which we obviously did not… it was crazy all over in social media… [that] was the moment we decide to go all in. Obviously, it is important to us to protect our brand.”

Cool Brands sent an initial demand letter, asking HyFlyers GC to stop using the logo, but the LIV Golf Club refused. “They didn’t leave any room for negotiations. They said [they] will not stop using the FF logo and that the new HyFlyers logo is not similar to ours. We have not heard from them since then (even after the suit was filed and our attorneys sent a copy of the complaint to their attorney).”

The complaint says that the “Defendents’ adoption and use of their knockoff logo nearly twenty years after Plaintiff commenced use and in the face of Plaintiff’s federal trademark registration is not just reckless and inexplicable — it is willful infringement and unfair competition.”

Mazzei further detailed their concerns, “One way we have been and are being harmed is that we have no control over what LIV does with the infringing mark, but customers might think it is us. So if LIV or HyFlyers or Phil Mickelson are involved in some big scandal, customers might think we are involved and develop a negative opinion of our brand.” If you follow Mickelson and LIV, you’ll know that scandal is baked into their brands, as Cool Brands’ complaint also details.

“Plaintiff has already received numerous customer comments and complaints regarding a supposed affiliation with Defendants, some of which are critical of Plaintiff in light of Defendants’ reputation as an effort to distract from their funding monarchy’s human rights abuses and cleanse Saudi Arabia’s repressive global image.”

When asked if they were worried about taking on such a big organization with clear ties to a vengeful authoritarian regime, Mazzei said, “We are not [worried] about how rich and powerful they are. We are determined to protect our logo, and we believe our position is very strong.”

According to Mazzei, all Cool Brands wants is for HyFlyers “to stop using our logo and go back to their original one.”

Does Cool Brands Supply have a chance against the bottomless bank accounts of LIV Golf (who recently announced a controversial partnership with the PGA)? Can they stop sentient Crest Whitestrip Phil Mickelson from slapping that knockoff logo all over his body? I’m no lawyer, but my eyes work reasonably well, and it seems like there’s a chance LIV and the HyFlyers could be F’d.

Big John hits the heavy bag and an emotional chord

Rank: Also 1
Mood: 🥊🥊

Whether there was a backlog or we’re just getting spoiled with a ramped-up release schedule, Thrasher dropped another of their “Out There” series last week, just days after their Josh Kalis episode. The latest features John Fitzgerald and focuses on his time spent recovering from multiple knee surgeries, getting into boxing, and dealing with severe mental health struggles. It is a candid, engaging, and exceptionally well-produced and edited piece.

Fitzgerald has always seemed to occupy a space on the periphery of professional skateboarding, but he doesn’t languish there. And whenever he steps back into view with a new video part, he shines exceptionally bright. His style of brute-force technical skateboarding is one that feels unique to him and always inspires some level of awe.

This entry in the “Out There” series might be the best yet. Not just as a moving showcase of one of skateboarding’s more enigmatic talents but also as a case study of the growth of filmer/editor Waylon Bone, whose vision here feels tighter while still giving himself room to experiment with the existing formula in the way of narrative and visual exploration.

Also to note, in the video, AVE teases a new Fitzgerald part, so keep your hockey.eyeswithoutaface peeled.

You almost got me, Barney

Rank: 2
Mood: 🧌👟

It was a valiant effort, to be sure. Your “etnies presents PAGE” video part uploaded by Free Skate Mag is a legitimately stunning showcase. The apotheosis of your career (until your next part, I assume). From the mix of Tom Knoxian spot selection to reinterpreting the static classics into something surprising and delightful. I wouldn’t imagine it to be easy to marry grace, power, creativity, and technical ability in the way you do. It’s an eminently watchable combination of elements that filmer/editor Kevin Parrott has masterfully put together.

So much so that you had me considering buying a pair of Etnies. I even pictured some Maranas or Windrows on my feet, and for a moment, it felt possible — and maybe it is! This is the ultimate marker of a quality skateboarding video part because if they’re released under the banner of a brand, they are a commercial, and commercials are product pitches, and you pitched this product so goddamn well, Barney. Couldn’t have done it any better, to be honest. But then I went to the Etnies website and saw this:

Which is not your fault! And I’m sure there are folks out there who like this monstrosity of a shoe beset with multiple logos and taglines like festering boils, and hey, more power to them. But to me, it’s mutilation. The purposeful marring of one’s flesh to appease a capricious god made of a swirling cloud of capitalism, consumerism, brand synergy, and bad taste. Of course, Etnies isn’t the only one who does this dance; I just feel a bit played because your video part was so, so good. Perhaps, in this way, too good.

Become a director of extreme action sports digital content today

Rank: 10
Mood: 👨‍💻

X Games, formerly known as the Extreme Games, is one of skateboarding’s most storied competition series and an often unheralded champion of the sport to the general public (without it, the mythos of Tony Hawk we know today, which first took shape in the eyes of the uninitiated after his landing of the 900 during an X Games broadcast, might not exist). Over the course of its existence, it has offered a sanitized presentation of skateboarding that could be easily packaged for television broadcasts and Sports Center highlights.

Now, decades and massive shifts in medium and the function of media later, what do that presentation and its subsequent influence look like for the X Games? Their gold medal events air on ESPN and ABC, and they have a significant presence on social media (with over 2.3 million followers on TikTok and 4 million on Instagram). However, they still often feel like an afterthought in the skateboarding world — and the sports world at large. After being acquired by private equity group MSP Capital last October, it looks like X Games is hoping to change that, having posted a job opening for a Director of Digital Content.

X Games… is in an exciting rebuilding phase and searching for a Director of Digital Content (social + streaming) to build and market cutting-edge entertainment content dedicated to serving and growing our incredible community of fans. As the Director of Digital Content, you will shape and execute our digital vision, driving monetization opportunities through creative branded content, channel optimizations, and distribution strategies.

That’s a lot of jargon to parse, but ultimately, they want someone to help make their product — or content — break through the noise online. The question is, does steady social posting, making a clip go viral, or “branded content” translate into overall brand success and reengage the “community of fans,” or is it all vanity metrics? And if you’re not focused on convincing viewers to watch the full event, doesn’t the continued cherry-picking of highlights from the broadcast to post on social get the audience even more disconnected from the original product? As it stands, the X Game appears to be merely a content farm whose purpose is to harvest clips for ephemeral online engagement and the hope of digital ad revenue.

Is this the X Games’ fault? No. And to be fair, they do put on a fun event if you stick around to watch. That’s just not the way we’ve all decided we want to absorb content now. Traditional television doesn’t bring in the eyes it once did, meaning financial opportunities are drying up, which leaves executives to hire whoever they think is the most competent person to pick up the divining rod and lead them to water.

Blind item: getting shoved, educated

Rank: 1
Mood: 📚🤕

While skating at my neighbourhood Courts spot this week, I got into a lively debate with a pal and beloved local professional skateboarder about what a nollie-front-shove is. I was confident it was a nollie-shove where the board shoves behind you (as any reasonable person would contend); they were certain it was a nollie-shove where the board shoves in front of you (blasphemous, I know).

However, the beloved local professional skateboarder had access to a knowledge channel I did not. They texted a friend, teammate, and a beloved professional skateboarder in their own right to settle the matter. Later that evening, I received a screenshot of their answer via text message:

Well. If they want it to be fs. They can all call it fakie switch fs shuv. It is technically. That's what I was thinking when I invented switch fs shuv 😈🤓🤷‍♂️


Something to consider:

In cities around the world, skateboarders repair surfaces and objects for the purposes of play using techniques to fill, smooth, and fabricate. Skateboarders repair—and care for—material objects and surfaces for the use of other skateboarders, not the greater public good. These acts are most effective when barely visible, and knowledge of the skills and equipment needed for these acts is shared as an important cultural ethos, spreading these acts across time and space.

Duncan McDuie-Ra and Jason Campbell with a succinctly titled paper published in AREA: “Preparing surfaces for shredding: Skateboarding, repair, and care across scales.”

Good thing: Anthony Pappalardo had a nice chat with Norma Ibarra about their video Polaris.

I first met Norma Ibarra back in 2019 co-hosting a panel at Pushing Boarders in Malmö, Sweden with Hannah Bailey titled Editor’s Note: Brutally Honest Skate Journalism. Along with Norma, the panel featured Lee Smith, Christian Kerr, Jin Yob Kim, and Arthur Derrien, and gave the audience a behind-the-scenes look at skate journalism and the dynamics, barr…

Another good thing: Vitória Mendonça is PRO.

Until next week… buy two slices of pizza and make your way to whatever local park or greenspace you enjoy the most. Lie down in the grass and rest the pizza slices on your chest. Take a nap. If all goes well, by the time you wake, some creature or assortment of creatures will be feeding on you. Pet them, if possible.

I wrote a book about the history and cultural impact of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, and I will keep posting about it at the end of the newsletter for the foreseeable future. Apologies. You can pre-order Right, Down + Circle now from your favourite local bookshop, my publisher ECW Press, or all of the usual devils (Amazon, Barnes & Noble). I think you might like it.

According to Goodreads, there is currently one person reading the book despite it being months from its September 26 release. If you’re out there, by whatever means you got a hold of it, I hope you’re enjoying the thing.

  1. A fittingly dork-ass name for a shit-ass bunch of people.