Armstrong Foundation claims copyright infringement

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - The Lance Armstrong Foundation has sued a man, alleging his animal charity's pet collars infringe on the foundation's trademark yellow LiveStrong wristbands.

The lawsuit seeks to stop Animal Charity Collar Group Inc. from using the phrases Barkstrong and Purrstrong, the yellow bands and the Web site It also seeks unspecified monetary damages and the cancellation of the company's Purrstrong trademark and its pending application for the Barkstrong trademark.

Animal Charity Collar Group, a for-profit company based in Tulsa, Okla., makes the collars for animal rescue groups to sell. It also sells them on its Web site for $4.99.

The pet collars "are confusingly similar to, and are likely to cause confusion, mistake or deception" about their origin or affiliation with the Lance Armstrong Foundation, according to the lawsuit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court.

Armstrong, a seven-time winner of the Tour de France, started the foundation bearing his name in 1997 after recovering from advanced testicular cancer that had spread to his abdomen, lungs and brain.

Since 2004, the Austin-based foundation has sold more than 70 million LiveStrong wristbands for $1 each to raise money for cancer research and programs for survivors. The wristbands are a symbol of the foundation's goodwill, the lawsuit says.

Chris Ohman, CEO of Animal Charity Collar Group, said the glow-in-the-dark pet collars were his company's idea. They come in white, yellow-green, pink and orange and have paw prints embedded on either side of the phrase.

"It is not something that could be confused with a bracelet or any other product they have," Ohman said.

He said he approached the Lance Armstrong Foundation when he started the collar project in 2006, but the foundation declined to participate because it was not related to cancer research.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)