Miss Universe producer sues Czech maker of winners' crowns

Miss Universe 2015 Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach from the Philippines holds her crown as she waves to the crowd during a motorcade at Makati financial district in Manila. REUTERS/Erik De Castro/File Photo
Miss Universe 2015 Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach from the Philippines holds her crown as she waves to the crowd during a motorcade at Makati financial district in Manila. REUTERS/Erik De Castro/File Photo

The producer of the Miss Universe pageant on Tuesday sued the Czech company hired to make the winners' iconic crowns, saying it kept touting its association with the pageant even after it breached its 10-year sponsorship agreement.

IMG Universe, whose parent company bought the pageant from Donald Trump in 2015, said it canceled Diamonds International Corp's (DIC) contract last August after financial problems caused the Prague-based company to miss two required payments.

DIC nonetheless kept advertising its ties to the pageant, including on its website where it displayed its logo atop the Miss Universe name, according to the lawsuit.

Miss Universe trademarks are "famous and distinctive," and DIC's use of them deceived the public and caused "substantial and irreparable harm" to the pageant, IMG said in its complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan.

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DIC did not immediately respond to requests for comment after business hours in the Czech Republic. Lawyers for the plaintiff did not immediately respond to similar requests.

The lawsuit seeks triple damages for the alleged trademark infringement, $2.04 million of contractual payments, and unspecified damages for breaching the sponsorship agreement, which was to run from 2015 to 2024.

IMG Universe also produces the Miss USA and Miss Teen USA pageants.

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Its parent, the talent agency William Morris Endeavor, known as WME/IMG, bought the Miss Universe Organization from Trump in September 2015 for an undisclosed price. The purchase came a few days after Trump bought NBCUniversal's 50 percent stake, giving him full ownership.

Miss Universe's crown has undergone many changes in the pageant's 65-year history.

According to the complaint, DIC said its crown was "designed to blend the Czech roots of DIC with the beautiful skyline of New York City, home of the Miss Universe Organization and its title holders."

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