TTAB Bully Watch: Major League Baseball Opposes Design Mark Comprising a Head Wearing a Reversed Baseball Cap
Far be it from me to say who's a trademark bully, but let's consider this trademark opposition. You be the umpire. Major League Baseball has filed a Section 2(a) opposition to registration of the design mark shown immediately below, for various clothing items, claiming that the mark would create a false connection between Applicant and MLB in the minds of consumers. Major League Baseball Properties, Inc. v. Michael MacLaverty, Opposition No. 91194816.
MLB alleges that it has "long placed its Rectangular Marks [show below] on the center of the back of baseball caps, which are sold, distributed and promoted by Opposer, and Opposer’s Rectangular Marks and the placement of such marks on Opposer’s headwear is [sic] well-known to consumers, fans, press, media and the public."
[Note that Applicant's mark is not a rectangle on the back of a cap, but the complete drawing shown above.]
According to MLB, "Applicant’s Mark features a man wearing a baseball cap bearing a rectangular shape that is identical to the rectangular shape of Opposer’s Rectangular Marks, and which is positioned in the exact location that Opposer’s Rectangular Marks are positioned in connection with baseball caps. Upon information and belief, Applicant intends, and consumers and the public will understand, the rectangular shape on the hat in Applicant’s Mark to be associated with Opposer."
What say you? Do you think MLB has rights in rectangular-shaped designs placed on the back of baseball caps? Do you think there is any likelihood that consumers will connect the applied-for design with Major League Baseball? If you were Applicant, what would you do?
Text Copyright John L. Welch 2010.