2016 has been one of the most wild years the supplement industry’s seen in recent history, driven by the Jim Stoppani Scandal and later the Bodybuilding.com vs. Jim Stoppani lawsuit (which then led to the Bodybuilding.com vs. GNC lawsuit in excess of $100 million).
In the quest to see who really controls the JYM mark – which is the basis of the above lawsuit – we recently unearthed a sworn affidavit, stating that Jim Stoppani was not the real formulator of Pre-JYM nor Pro-JYM. Iinstead, the JYM products were formulated by a Bodybuilding.com employee.
Members of Stoppani’s #JYMArmy fan club had mixed reactions — Jim did come to Bodybuilding.com with his own pre workout formula, but that was not the product actually created and sold as Pre-JYM. On the other hand, it’s nearly indisputable that Pro JYM was just a slightly-modified version of Bodybuilding.com’s PROTOGEN formula.
This revelation cast serious doubt on Jim Stoppani’s statements throughout the scandal earlier this year, where he repeatedly stated that he formulated these products.
Lying on YouTube doesn’t look good, but it also doesn’t make a trademark case
But does that matter? Do the courts care about lies on YouTube? Do they even care who formulated the products?
Possibly not. Plus, as we discussed at the end of the Pre-JYM Formulation blog post, it’s possible (yet unlikely) that the proclaimed formulator lied.
So we need more. This is where our next piece of evidence comes in:
Formulator may not matter… but what about the original creator?
Although the formulator of the products likely won’t break the case in determining who really owns and controls “JYM”, the actual creator and first user of the brand certainly should.
So this is where we present to you the sworn affidavit of John Hardesty, the creator of the JYM logo.
There’s plenty of good stuff in the above PDF, but let’s cut to the chase and get to the good stuff:
The email thread that may clinch the JYM Ownership Case
Below are the images, copied Hardesty’s affidavit:
Exhibit A: Email from Jim Stoppani to Bodybuilding.com Team, Feb 2013
From: Jimstoppani Sent: Monday, February 18, 2013 3:32 PM To: John Hardesty Cc: Brian Rand; Mike Mcerlane; Laya Subject: Re: Follow-Up
Good timing! I was just putting an email together to you guys that basically said this:
John and Brian – let us know when you guys are free to hop on a call with Mike McErlane, Laya and myself. We’re all in agreement that this is a more exciting and better opportunity than our original business model and are really looking forward to moving in this new direction with bb.com on the supplement line. The three of us will be available whenever you guys have the time. Let us know.
[Emphasis ours.] Not exactly a silver bullet, though.
Moving forward, the contract with JYM was then signed in May of 2013. Products were finalized and went to manufacturing, and after the first Pre-JYM shipment, the following celebratory emails were sent:
Exhibit B: Email exchange between Jim’s Team and Bodybuilding.com’s Team, July 2013
Note that email threads like this go backward, meaning the oldest/first emails are at the bottom:So let’s type that out, with emphasis ours in bold:
Sent from John Hardesty (Bodybuilding.com) on Tuesday, July 9, 2013 at 7:42PM:
John emails everyone with the subject “It’s Official – PRE JYM shipped Today!” simply (and correctly) stating:
This is going to be epic.
Reply from Jim Stoppani on Tuesday, July 9 at 8:21PM:
Thanks John! As Mike said, you and Brian really get credit for spearheading this and being involved on so many levels to not only make this happen, but make it a success. That’s something that Mike and I don’t take lightly and won’t forget.
It’s about to get real!
In this email, and the entire email thread, Mike is in reference to Mike McErlane, Jim’s business partner and the co-owner of PhD Fitness.
Reply from Mike McErlane on Tuesday, July 9 at 8:30PM:
I remember when John turned his computer around when we were in his office and said, “I worked on a little something last night and wanted to get your thoughts.” that was the moment JYM came to life.
Reply from Jim Stoppani on Tuesday, July 9 at 9:34PM:
Yeah, I was shooting Shortcut To Shred, so I had not even seen the JYM logo or even the concept that John had sketched out, but all I heard all day from Mike was how brilliant the concept was that John had come up with.
The rest is history.
We’re not lawyers here, but if this isn’t a slam dunk on the creation and first use of a mark, then we’re not really sure what is. All assuming, of course, that these emails are valid – and that can easily be verified by the email providers.
John Hardesty leaves a comment
I spoke with John Hardesty to discuss the situation. Out of everyone I’ve discussed this case with, John was easily the most level-headed and clear-minded individual there is. He left this quote via email:
“Creating the JYM brand and mark is something I’m very proud of. Together, the teams at Bodybuilding.com, and Jim Stoppani, changed the definition of what it means to deliver a total system of great products and content to support users in every aspect of their fitness life. The landscape of sports nutrition has been positively changed due to that groundwork that was set in this partnership.”
— John Hardesty, ex-Vice President of Digital Publishing at Bodybuilding.com
Reflecting on the past few years
JYM was truly lightning in a bottle — and we’ll prove that when we release the project’s sales figures in the next post. Hell, it still is lightning in a bottle, three years later! But it was also a team project, and a team success.
Why it had to come to an end in this fashion is simply mind-boggling. And why GNC decided to step into this mess is doubly so. Maybe they have some evidence we don’t know about. Or maybe… they just don’t care.
All we can say is that it won’t be the first time ego and greed have toppled empires… and it certainly won’t be the last.
History indeed, Jim.