MLB Claims That Finance Company's 'W' Logo Violates 2 MLB Teams' Trademarks

from the 2-too-many dept

Let’s play out a little thought experiment. Let’s say that a corporation involved in the money business has a logo for themselves. Now, let’s say that two separate trademark holders both claim that this company’s logo is too similar to their own. However, let’s also stipulate in this scenario that the two offended trademark holders, who both claim similarity concerns with the finance company’s logo, aren’t bothering to file against each other for trademark claims, even though both are intimately knowledgeable of the other. Now, just to really make all this as face-palming-ly silly as possible, let’s consider that these are the three logos in question:

Well, this isn’t a thought experiment, it’s actually happening, and it is maddeningly silly. The top left image is a registered logo for the Washington Nationals baseball team, the bottom left is the registered “W” flag the Chicago Cubs fly on the rare occassion they win anything, and the logo on the right is that of Evolution Finance’s website, WalletHub, through which users can compare credit card prices and get financial advice. So what’s the problem, you ask?

Evolution Finance has been locked in a trademark dispute with lawyers representing the Washington Nationals and Chicago Cubs for two years after Major League Baseball, on behalf of the teams, opposed their attempt to trademark the white-and-green logo. The league asserts that the WalletHub logo bears a strong resemblance to Ws trademarked by the two teams, and that granting Evolution Finance rights to use the mark without restrictions could create confusion for customers and complications for both businesses.

So many issues here, one struggles to know where to begin. Let’s start with the fact that Evolution Finance is as much in the baseball business as it is in the puppy-murdering business, which is to say not at freaking all. “I came here to buy baseball tickets and I ended up transitioning my 401k into a personal Roth IRA on the basis of better returns in the bonds market” is a phrase that is nearly impossible to even have imagined, thus showing the extreme and dangerous power of dumb ass trademark claims. Add to it that half the problem appears to be that a trademark was granted on what barely amounts to more than a letter and we’ve already got issues with MLB’s claims.

But to really make this a head-scratcher, I’m trying to figure out why the two teams, who actually are in the same market, are being allowed to make this claim when they haven’t bothered to go after each other over their respective marks. I mean, the obvious answer is that the league likely wants the two teams to play nice over the Ws each as trademarked, but that shouldn’t make anyone more comfortable with a specious move attacking a company that isn’t in their market.

“It is common for trademark owners to sometimes overreach in protecting their marks,” said S. Lloyd Smith, an attorney at Buchanan, Ingersoll and Rooney who represents Evolution Finance. “They’re always concerned or cautious that if they don’t enforce their marks they might lose their rights. The real question is why does MLB care?” Smith said. “They don’t own the letter W. There’s lots of other Ws out there. They’re just plainly overreaching in this case.”

Overreaching and fanning on a curve ball for strike three, more like it.

Filed Under: , , , , , , ,
Companies: chicago cubs, evolution finance, major league baseball, mlb, washington nationals

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Comments on “MLB Claims That Finance Company's 'W' Logo Violates 2 MLB Teams' Trademarks”

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Anonymous Coward says:

when they haven’t bothered to go after each other over their respective marks

bottom left is the registered “W” flag the Chicago Cubs fly on the rare occassion they win anything

There’s your explanation. The Chicago Cubs win so rarely that they have no use for their mark, so it does not confuse Washington Nationals fans because no one ever sees the Cubs W. The Washington Nationals W does not confuse Cubs fans because Cubs fans know the Cubs never win, so any W they see is obviously not the Cubs W.

art guerrilla (profile) says:

just wondering...

if either of the teams and/or major league boreball have a bug up their butt over some CEO/whoever who owns or is associated with the finance company…

this could *all* be some bullshit internecine warfare among rich pukes who are flinging feces at each other, just, well, just because if you’re a rich puke, what else do you have to do all day but harass underlings and destroy your personal enemies…

*could* be that ‘simple’…

Anonymous Coward says:

I wonder if W Magazine has prior art on all these posers.

The Nats use a script W that is a more trademarkabale boob shape. The Sentaors used the same script W in their last years in DC 1968-1971. The blue W dates back to the Senators who used it first in 1902 and then 1912-1935 and again in 1961-1962 before they went defunct in 1971.

Walgreens has used a similar Logo since 1951 and there was noise for a suit about a few years ago.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I don’t think that you can trademark a letter all by itself. You can trademark a letter that is part of a distinctive design, though, such as with a particular font, color, etc.

It’s been a number of years, but I remember having trouble with one of my own trademark registrations because it was a short word and you can’t trademark short works all by themselves. I resolved it by including the font and a little graphic as part of the trademark.

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