MLB Threatens Guy Who Made A Cool iPhone App For Baseball Fans

from the there's-thick-headed-and-then-there's-mlb dept

It's really disappointing watching various sports leagues abuse intellectual property law over and over again. Perhaps the worst offender has been Major League Baseball. MLB wants people to think that it owns absolutely everything having to do with baseball, even though the courts have shot it down repeatedly. Even when it may be legally correct, its moves tend to do more to harm the game than to help it. It's as if MLB wants to keep shooting itself in the foot. The latest example was sent in by William Jackson, who points out that MLB is threatening the guy who made a neat Baseball app for the iPhone.

MLB has its own baseball app for the iPhone, which costs $5, that shows scores and highlights -- but this free app doesn't compete with that one. Instead, it's basically a baseball encyclopedia, allowing fans to look up all sorts of interesting historical stats and information. In other words, it's the sort of thing that helps fans feel even more connected to the game. So what does MLB do? It complains that the guy has the actual logos of Major League teams in the app. MLB argues that this is trademark infringement, but that's questionable. This is helping to promote those major league teams, not harm or dilute their brand in any way.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Paul, Jul 21st, 2008 @ 2:09am

    Whatever

    Who cares? Baseball sucks to high heaven and is about as exciting as rush hour traffic, minus the importance. Everyone should ignore baseball so it'll go away.

     

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  2.  
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    Andy, Jul 21st, 2008 @ 2:17am

    Haha, So true. Sitting in a room with open cans of paint thinner is much more exciting than baseball. at least at with that you are able to hallucinate funnier things than people standing for 4 hours.

     

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  3.  
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    SteveD, Jul 21st, 2008 @ 2:31am

    Trademark infringement?

    Simply reproducing a logo is trademark infringement now? Its not like the guy is sticking them on tshirts, hes using them to identify teams (which I thought was the point).

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 21st, 2008 @ 3:26am

    I think it depends on whether or not he is making any money with it.

     

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  5.  
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    inc, Jul 21st, 2008 @ 3:44am

    maybe he just needs to add a disclaimer saying the images are TM's of their respective owners like Burger King does with McDonald's adds. Other then that MLB is just a bunch cry babies you want to drop kick out a tenth story window.

     

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  6.  
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    Twinrova, Jul 21st, 2008 @ 4:04am

    And MLB is to blame?

    ALL of "professional" sports should be banned from this country. I'm absolutely sick of listening to players being charged with a crime.

    Let MLB do what it wants. They've lost me as a fan long, long ago when the players went on strike.

    True players don't strike because it's not about the money.

    In today's sports world, it's always about the money.

    Screw 'em all and Techdirt shouldn't even give any of them the time of day with any publicity (good or bad).

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    fritz, Jul 21st, 2008 @ 4:42am

    Re: And MLB is to blame?

    "True players don't strike because it's not about the money."

    Actually, professional baseball has always been about the money, not the game.

    This argument, the owners aren't making enough money, has been around since the creation of professional leagues and is not going away anytime soon.

    It's too bad, the baseball app is a great resource for historic baseball stats. I'm glad I already have it.

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 21st, 2008 @ 4:48am

    Re:

    I think the words "but this FREE app" (note the emphasis) implies that, no, he is not making any money from it.

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 21st, 2008 @ 5:11am

    Free or not is irrelevant. If they really infringe it is probably an easy matter to remove the logos, or ask the game's fans to come up with parodies of the MLB logos that can be included in the game.

    Yes, MLB probably does need to defend its trademarks. However, they also have the option of licensing them to the game. There are a lot of ways to handle this, but history suggests MLB will manage to pick the method that diminishes itself in the long run.

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 21st, 2008 @ 5:38am

    I think everyone is failing to see the real reason they want this guy's app shut down. His is free! Their app, although nowhere near as good, is $5 bucks. So given the choice who would pay $5 for an inferior application when there is a free one available that works better and offers more features...Greed is the factor here I think.

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Heywood, Jul 21st, 2008 @ 5:54am

    Re: Whatever

    So, just because you don't like it, no one should like it? I think soccer is boring as hell, so should everyone ignore that so it goes away as well?

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    DanC, Jul 21st, 2008 @ 5:59am

    Re:

    Trademark is about consumer protection, i.e. whether a consumer would mistakenly believe that this guy's iPhone App is actually being offered by MLB. Whether or not money is being made off the app doesn't matter.

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Vincent Clement, Jul 21st, 2008 @ 6:00am

    Re:

    Not necessarily.

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Vincent Clement, Jul 21st, 2008 @ 6:02am

    Re:

    I think you are failing to see that the two apps are completely different. The MLB one shows current stats, while the free one shows historical stats.

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Vincent Clement, Jul 21st, 2008 @ 6:07am

    Back In The Day...

    Not too long ago companies and sports leagues encouraged fans to embrace their brand. But then came along the internet and everything changed. Instead of embracing things that promote their brands, they fight them in court.

    MLB could have easily said to this guy "hey, that is a cool app, how can we help you make it better?". But the lawyers would be out of business of the MLB (or any organization) embraced fans and customers.

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    konomaniac, Jul 21st, 2008 @ 6:19am

    MLB

    Major League Bucks
    Major League Ba$tards
    Major League Biotches
    Major League Ballbusters

    more??

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    Thom, Jul 21st, 2008 @ 6:23am

    Stupid FANS

    This goes on in every sport because there are too many stupid FANS. There's never been a game played that's worth what you'd have to pay for a soda and a snack at one of today's games, much less worth what they charge for admission. The very fact that any player in any game makes more money than a teacher shows how f'd in the head the human race has become.

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 21st, 2008 @ 6:34am

    Re: And MLB is to blame?

    what needs to be banned is fuknuts like you

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    im bored, Jul 21st, 2008 @ 6:57am

    Re:

    Midgets Like Balloons

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    im still bored, Jul 21st, 2008 @ 6:58am

    Re:

    Must Love Balls

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    867-5309, Jul 21st, 2008 @ 7:02am

    One of the dimensions of culture is the ability to share culture.

    Packaging a product in such a way that it prevents or keeps sharing from occurring will eventually prevent it from being a part of culture.

    Good luck with your drivel, MLB.

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    dru, Jul 21st, 2008 @ 7:26am

    Dear MLB

    I'm with Paul. Baseball is pretty damn boring to watch. But, most sports are boring to watch imo. Until the fanbase for MLB dries up they will keep doing shit like this.

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    SierraNightTide, Jul 21st, 2008 @ 7:35am

    Greed

    More worshipping to the god of greed...

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Boost, Jul 21st, 2008 @ 7:59am

    Re: Whatever

    Spoken by someone who probably thinks NASCAR is cool as hell.."hahaha haha hahaha haha hahaha...look at all the cool crashes. Wait, why are they driving in circles?" ~clueless dipshit

    I played baseball for most of my life and I think it's pretty fun to watch a good game...especially a pitchers dual that goes 0-0 for 9 plus innings. Defense rules.

    But, then again, you probably watch sports just to see if someone gets hurt.

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Boost, Jul 21st, 2008 @ 8:01am

    Re: Re:

    What would you be protecting the consumer from in this case? Wasting their money?!

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    boost, Jul 21st, 2008 @ 8:04am

    Re: Stupid FANS

    It's price/demand. Take away the demand and the price will fall through the floor. What this says is that entertainment is more important to people than education. This is hardly news, though.

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    Greg, Jul 21st, 2008 @ 8:10am

    Re: Stupid FANS

    While I agree that teachers should be paid more, it's ENTERTAINMENT we're paying for when we go to a sporting event, or a concert. People are willing to pay more for entertainment, so the entertainers are compensated more. A LOT more. All in all, there are so few entertainers that get paid multi-millions compared to the number of teachers in the country, the rarity of the professional athlete commands a higher salary.

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 21st, 2008 @ 8:46am

    Re:

    The apps are not competing!

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    DanC, Jul 21st, 2008 @ 9:00am

    Re: Re: Re:

    You seem to be operating under the incorrect assumption that I support MLB's position. I was merely pointing out that profit is not a factor in determining trademark infringement.

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    Kevin, Jul 21st, 2008 @ 9:44am

    Article Neglects to Mention:

    This article neglects to mention that MLB has their own iPhone app that they're trying to sell to people. This guy's free app, is therefore in direct competition with the iPhone app that MLB owns. Making their lawsuit a little more understandable.

     

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  31.  
    identicon
    Kevin, Jul 21st, 2008 @ 9:45am

    Or I could actually read the article

    Retracting previous post.

    Many regrets.

    Kevin

     

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  32.  
    identicon
    Mike, Jul 21st, 2008 @ 10:06am

    Re: Whatever

    I agree, baseball blows...

     

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  33.  
    identicon
    Jeremy Harrington, Jul 21st, 2008 @ 10:45am

    I was forced by MLB to remove my Apple MLB desktop widget the very day of the 3G release. I think the MLB was blind to all of this until it had it's own app - and now sent out the dogs. I had neither the money or interest to fight them.

     

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  34.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 21st, 2008 @ 5:03pm

    Major League Buttheads

    What's next, MLB telling you that you can not BBQ hotdogs like that in your own backyard ?

    They can keep their crappy watered down beer

     

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  35.  
    identicon
    Dominique Marquez, Jul 21st, 2008 @ 5:58pm

    Does anyone see a pattern here?

    Seems that when companies who are hurting in their core competency of entertainment put a higher value on supplemental media- be it MP3, Video, or an iPhone application attempt to litigate, it just creates a psychological downward spiral of contempt by a fanbase (for all intents and purposes: Consumers) towards the entire product line.

    Trying to justify a higher price for entertainment by forcing artificial scarcity (removing what would be real good, and extremely inexpensive marketing tools for their core product) is shortsighted to say the least.

    But considering past actions, it seems the people in charge listen more to the attorneys and lawyers than the fans. Good luck with protecting the precious, precious intellectual property.

    The stance does affect ticket sales.

     

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  36.  
    identicon
    T, Jul 22nd, 2008 @ 7:21pm

    Watch

    That's what I like to do, they'll eventually have a near death experience before they realize that they're actually really hurting themselves. Then they'll try to get back up, and they'll fall...

    Then you get to laugh at them....

    In an unrelated note, this is what I'm waiting for Microsoft to do.

    Of course... don't just sit back and watch, if everyone (or the majority) do that, then there will be nothing to watch.... and that would be sad....

    Vote with your wallets and, in this case, your eyeballs.
    Then just wait and you'll eventually hear a huge THUD... at least, this sometimes happens, other times the customer/fan base is too stupid/lethargic to get pissed off over things, kinda like the proletariat in "1984". Not that I'm suggesting that anything of the totalitarian government sort is going on..... or that all baseball fans are stupid and lethargic, I've met my fair share of reasonably intelligent baseball fans, even one enviously intelligent one...

    Anyway, just watch, even if they don't fall, you'll surely get to watch them stumble and sway.... and then you still get to laugh.... does that make me a little sadistic?

     

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  37.  
    identicon
    FP, Jul 23rd, 2008 @ 9:24am

    MLB

    For infringement to happen, an act of commerce where goods are exchanged must have existed. Exchanging public information is thankfully protected by the first amendment. Since the information is offered at no cost, there is no commerce, therefore, there is no infringement. MLB has a practice of missrepresenting its rights beyond the protection under copyright law and bullying companies with threats of litigation which results in restraining trade. This is a violation af antitrust law....a felony! Someone needs to report these guys to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Prosecuting them criminally is the only way you will bring them around.

     

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  38.  
    identicon
    دردشه, Jul 5th, 2009 @ 11:45am

    The stance does affect ticket sales

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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