Before the horses have left the gate, Churchill Downs, the site of the famed Kentucky Derby and owner of the trademarked name, has sued www.DerbyBox.com for allegedly using its name and pictures of the race illegally to sell tickets….

Up until April 18, the website allegedly displayed the name and pictures but removed them and replaced them with the phrase “Derby Tickets” and stock horse racing photos, according to published reports. Churchill Downs is seeking an order in federal court to stop the site and its owner, Douglas Dearen, from the using the material, and to hold him in comtempt. Churchill Downs is also wants Dearen to forfeit all profits from ticket sales while the site carried the name and photos.

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The two sides squared off over the same issue five years ago, at which time Dearen acquiesced and took down the references and pictures. Much like the National Football League that protects its Super Bowl trademark, Churchill Downs aggressively protects its image and scours the Internet looking for violations.

DerbyBox.com offers some individual tickets for the May 5 race for as much as $32,000, but the majority of its available seats sell for between $175 and $5,000.