Baseball Changes Story Against Fantasy League; Doesn't Know When To Give Up For Its Own Good
from the pissing-off-the-fans dept
Major League Baseball just doesn’t know when to stop. As we noted yesterday, MLB lost their case where they claimed that an online fantasy league could be prevented from using the names and stats of baseball players. We even had an MLB.com employee stop by and admit that MLB’s position was embarrassing. However, it seems that the folks at the top still don’t get it. They’ve decided to appeal the case. Notably, though, it appears like they’re trying to change their story slightly, saying that they agree player names and stats are public domain (which is not what they had been saying earlier), but that the use of team logos was illegal without a license. That’s a different argument altogether, and goes back to trademark law — rather than copyright law or rights of privacy. Again, though, they may have a difficult case on their hands. As we’ve discussed repeatedly, a trademark is supposed to prevent confusion, not give the holder complete control over the trademark. So, as long as the fantasy league makes it clear that baseball and the teams don’t officially endorse their league, it may be difficult for MLB to claim confusion. While we’ve been attacking this from the business and legal perspective for years, it seems that even those on the sports side of the fence can’t figure out what MLB’s reasoning is here. King Kaufman, one of my favorite sportswriters, has written up a piece telling MLB how lucky they are that they lost this decision. He points out how little money they actually make from fantasy licensing — and how much they stand to lose by continuing to piss off their fans.