Major League Baseball Claims Dodgers Still Own Trademark On Brooklyn Logo, Despite Leaving Town 53 Years Ago

from the brooklyn-bums dept

A few folks sent in the story from the NY Daily News saying that the Los Angeles Dodgers had filed a lawsuit against the owners of Brooklyn Burger, for using a version of the old stylized "Brooklyn" logo as part of its own logo:
brooklyn burger
Of course, (not surprisingly) it appears that the NY Daily News account is not accurate. Apparently it's actually Major League Baseball who put in the claim "on behalf of the Dodgers." It's also not quite a lawsuit, but just an opposition to the trademark filed by the burger place. MLB's reasoning is the standard cop out from companies asserting trademark claims in questionable situations, as they say "oh we have to do this."
"As MLB, we are obligated by law to protect our trademarks or we are at risk of losing them."
Of course, this ignores the bigger point, which is that the Dodgers left Brooklyn in 1957 and haven't used the logo since then. On top of that, it's not at all clear that the Dodger's original trademarked logo would cover food at all. And, of course, it's not as if anyone (moron in a hurry or not) would rush by the Brooklyn Burger restaurant and think "gee, the Dodgers have opened a restaurant!" The whole thing feels like yet another (in a long line of) intellectual property overreaches by Major League Baseball.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    charlie potatoes, Nov 5th, 2010 @ 6:30pm

    How to tell ...

    Just stop in the place. If it's owned by a baseball club then the burgers will be $12 and beer will be $14.

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    bob, Nov 5th, 2010 @ 7:50pm

    Re: How to tell ...

    LOL, Well said Sir, Well Said.

     

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  3.  
    icon
    Brian (profile), Nov 5th, 2010 @ 8:24pm

    Use in commerce?

    I thought trademarks actually had to be used in commerce for you to keep them or you lost it after a certain number of years of them not being in use. I could very well be wrong though so any correction is welcome. I know that when you file initially, you can file an "in good faith" saying that you will use it but then you have to at some point actually use it.

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 6th, 2010 @ 5:07am

    I am pretty sure that you can still by Brooklyn Dodgers shirts and jerseys, so they are at least still using the name.

    What do you expect though? People still refer to the NFL Giants as the NY Football Giants. How long has it been since the baseball Giants were in NY? What, 1954?

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 6th, 2010 @ 5:22am

    Re:

    Yep the Cooperstown Hall of Fame sells Brooklyn jerseys.
    http://shop.baseballhall.org/Don-Sutton-Brooklyn-Dodgers-Cooperstown-Replica-Jersey-_-1915500827_P D.html

    I think that they should be forced to field a team in these uniforms once every few years to maintain the trademark. What does it say about teams who have direct food ties like the Phillies and Phillies Franks.

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 6th, 2010 @ 6:03am

    And they wonder why I am only interested in the world series. I never let my kids watch because of the alcohol ads. Most of the fathers I know let their kids watch and one of those kids just died from alcohol poisoning at the age of 18. Hey MLB is not responsible. Exactly! The MLB is not a responsible organization and tries to be through the power of lawyers. The last lawyer that came on my family's property uninvited left with an ass full of buckshot. Yea!

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 6th, 2010 @ 7:42am

    Deja Vu

    The "dodgers" already lost a similar lawsuit where the judge said the team had abandoned their rights to Brooklyn Dodgers once the team moved to LA.
    http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/metaschool/fisher/domain/tmcases/majleag.htm
    Sure, opposing a TM application is different, but c'mon.

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 6th, 2010 @ 8:01am

    Re:

    lol - wut ?

     

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  9.  
    icon
    beckerist (profile), Nov 6th, 2010 @ 9:33am

    Re:

    Heck, even the NFL NY Giants haven't been in NY since 1973 (minus the one year they used Shea Stadium in 1975.)

     

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  10.  
    icon
    Christopher (profile), Nov 6th, 2010 @ 10:19am

    Thus, corporate disobedience...

    ... becomes your only viable option once again.

    -C

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 6th, 2010 @ 12:25pm

    Re: Re:

    Their corporate offices are. Many teams don't play in the city they're named for. The Dallas Cowboys play in Arlington. The Washington Redskins play in Landover, Maryland. The Detroit Lions finally moved back to Detroit after decades in Pontiac, MI. Giants Stadium is actually the closest stadium to midtown Manhattan that any NY sports team plays in (outside of Madison Square Garden).

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 6th, 2010 @ 1:21pm

    Didn't Google it, but Yankee Stadium and Tarp Field have to be closer to midtown than the Meadowlands.

     

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  13.  
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    Tom Landry (profile), Nov 6th, 2010 @ 1:40pm

    ....we are obligated by law to protect our trademarks or we are at risk of losing them."


    can someone PLEASE explain to me WHY this is so? This seems to be the basis of most of the asinine "trademark" lawsuits. It seems to me you should either have protection for "X" amount of years or you don't. Maybe I'm being far too simplistic but I would guess that if things were better defined it would cut out many frivolous lawsuits, no?

     

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

  14.  
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    Christopher (profile), Nov 6th, 2010 @ 2:50pm

    Re: Use in commerce?

    They do have to be in use or you lose them after a certain amount of time. The problem is that 'in use' is a very vague legal concept when it comes down to it.

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Gene Cavanaugh, Nov 6th, 2010 @ 4:35pm

    Brooklyn logo

    Right on! Trademarks are supposed to be "use it or lose it", and restricted to a specific product. If only the courts would:
    1. Do something about costs, such as forcing someone bringing a lawsuit (if MLB does) in such a case to pay all fees and a penalty to the injured party, and
    2. Provide a pretrial test so that abuse like this would never even get into the courts!
    At this time, large entity IP is becoming a very bad joke.

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2010 @ 4:59am

    Subsidies

    Sure, they can have the trademark when they return all the taxpayer monies used to build stadiums.

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2010 @ 8:26am

    Re:

    Exactly! What we need is less baseball and more rednecks with shotguns. More buckshot less problems.

     

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

  18.  
    icon
    coach george (profile), Nov 7th, 2010 @ 9:44am

    Re: Re:

    NFL Giants official name "New York Football Giants, Inc"

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2010 @ 12:54pm

    Re:

    Most of the fathers I know let their kids watch and one of those kids just died from alcohol poisoning at the age of 18. Hey MLB is not responsible. Exactly!


    You're right in one sense. MLB is not responsible, bad parenting is responsible. I love the fact that children are telling their parents what to do these days. If the parent tries to "discipline" the child, all they do is call CPS.

     

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

  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 7th, 2010 @ 2:47pm

    "gee, the Dodgers have opened a restaurant!"

    And even if they did think this, how would it cause harm, financial or otherwise, to Major League Baseball? Ridiculous.

     

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

  21.  
    identicon
    NullOp, Nov 8th, 2010 @ 3:50am

    TM

    Yep, and their right too! Ownership does not change because of location change. WTF?

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    Michael, Nov 8th, 2010 @ 5:30am

    Re:

    I'm not defending it, but if your trademark is used enough, it can become a generic term. Take 'Elevator' - this was, actually, a trademarked name. It was used so much, it became a generic term and the trademark was lost. 'Jello' was in jeopardy of this for awhile.

    However, at the end of the day, it is pretty stupid. People recognize this evolution and can handle it. Eventually, you may have to tag something with 'Original' to note that you started the use of the term. In addition, you can issue anyone a free license for use of your term and suddenly you do not have a problem. This is just the MLB doing a money grab again.

     

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  23.  
    icon
    Gabriel Tane (profile), Nov 8th, 2010 @ 7:18am

    Re: Re:

    "You're right in one sense. MLB is not responsible, bad parenting is responsible. "

    -Passes AC a beer (hidden from the view of 18yo's)-
    Amen brother/sister.

     

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

  24.  
    icon
    Gabriel Tane (profile), Nov 8th, 2010 @ 7:22am

    Re: TM

    it's not about whether 'They're' right or not based on location... the point of the article is WhyTF would the MLB even care about it except that they can't be seen to allow even one iota of control over, well, EXISTANCE slip from thier grasp. At least, that's what thier action seems to show.

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Fred, Nov 8th, 2010 @ 8:24am

    MLB Trademarks

    I did not know someone could trademark a name discribing a geograpical area? There must be a thousand companies using Brooklyn in their name. Why isn't MLB attacking them?
    Think I will trademark "America" and sue everyone using it.

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 8th, 2010 @ 11:05am

    Well, there is the Hard Rock Cafe at Yankee Stadium and New York Yankee Steak. Of course, both of these are actually located inside Yankee Stadium.

     

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

  27.  
    identicon
    DL, Nov 8th, 2010 @ 12:20pm

    Re:

    Think of the Farmer John Dodger Dogs and the children who are confused!

     

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

  28.  
    icon
    baseballfan (profile), Nov 9th, 2010 @ 8:06am

    Don't criticize what you don't understand.

    1. While you generally cannot trademark a geographic city name, you can trademark a distinctive style of writing that name. Every sports team and College or University does it in some form or another, like an interlocking LA or NY or old Boston B or the style of print. And you want that to be the case, or else the market would be even more flooded than it already is with crappy knock-offs of the trademark.

    2. The Dodgers use the Brooklyn mark extensively in commerce. Look at the Cooperstown Collection apparel. Someone posted that they should be forced to use it on the field. They have, repeatedly, including at Old Timers functions and Hall of Fame games. One of the reasons many sports teams have been using flashback or throwback uniforms (like the Jets using Titans stuff) is to establish that they still use their old trademarks.

    3. Why do you think the burger place used the distinctive Brooklyn script? Because they want to specifically reference and enjoy the benefit of all the good will the baseball team generated with that logo. That is not right. The Dodgers have invested a ton of money generating that. Shouldn't they be entitled to protect it? The burger joint is free to use another print style and create its own good will; don't try to take a free ride on someone else's.

    4. Someone posted that Baseball should license the burger joint to use the logo. How do you know that they haven't made that offer? That is common in circumstances like this. Maybe the burger joint rejected it? Or refused to maintain certain quality standards, or not sell t-shirts that with the Brooklyn script, etc., etc. Don't jump on the team unless you know the entire background.

    5. Trademark holders are forced to take action when someone tries to trademark a similar logo. If they let everyone use the trademark and did not police and protect it, you would jump on them for not taking sufficient steps to keep it disinctive (and the law would agree with you). You can't have it both ways -- criticize them for not protecting it and then criticize them for protecting it. Nor can they wait. What if the burger joint is successful and opens another and then another and then another burger joint, and then the Dodgers take action. Then you would argue that they slept on their rights and it isn't fair to the burger joint because they have now invested in building a name and market using the name.

    6. The decision in the prior lawsuit involving MLB and the Brooklyn Dodgers logo linked to above was VACATED by the court, meaning that it was withdrawn, is not binding, and has no value as precedent.

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    baseball training, Jul 16th, 2011 @ 7:46am

    Many teams don't play in the city they're named for. The Dallas Cowboys play in Arlington. The Washington Redskins play in Landover, Maryland. The Detroit Lions finally moved back to Detroit after decades in Pontiac, MI. Giants Stadium is actually the closest stadium to midtown Manhattan that any NY sports team plays in (outside of Madison Square Garden).

     

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

  30.  
    identicon
    Jeff Moreau, Jul 19th, 2011 @ 2:15am

    Brooklyn Burger

    Is it territorial use rights or something?
    Makes no sense to oppose the use of the icon.
    It's not like it's branded by MLB or the Brooklyn Dodgers.
    If it was in every day use, ok, but that's not the case.

     

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


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