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.


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Feb 2015 @ 2:39pm

    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.

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

    • icon
      musterion (profile), 21 Feb 2015 @ 11:20am

      Re:

      Also, they are both in Baseball, and I bet they have a cross licensing agreement in place. It makes no sense that one Major League Baseball team would sue another--it would cut into their profits. It just one big billionaires club.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Feb 2015 @ 2:45pm

    L

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

  • identicon
    Nyarlathotep, 20 Feb 2015 @ 3:13pm

    Well, this claim seems to have come out of...
    (•_•)
    ( •_•)>⌐■-■
    (⌐■_■)
    left field.

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

  • icon
    vegetaman (profile), 20 Feb 2015 @ 3:31pm

    Wait... You can literally trademark a W?

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

  • icon
    art guerrilla (profile), 20 Feb 2015 @ 3:43pm

    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'...

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

  • icon
    sorrykb (profile), 20 Feb 2015 @ 3:43pm

    "Today's episode of Sesame Street was brought to you by the letter [removed due to trademark claim]..."

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Feb 2015 @ 5:06pm

    Check out the other Nationals W and compare it to the Walgreens logo.

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

  • identicon
    phils, 20 Feb 2015 @ 6:26pm

    Didn't one of our recent presidents have a trademark on the "W"

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

  • icon
    MO'B (profile), 20 Feb 2015 @ 6:33pm

    I wonder

    How much the Nationals paid for somebody to think of that logo?? Or did they get somebodies 5yr old to draw that up?
    Like sorrykb alludes too, I think the owes Sesame Street some money!

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

  • icon
    Binko Barnes (profile), 21 Feb 2015 @ 1:59am

    Go to google images search and type in "W logo".

    Looks like somebody has a lifetime worth of law suits to pursue.

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

  • identicon
    anonymouse, 21 Feb 2015 @ 4:07am

    just the W trademarked

    My guess is that any outfit that trademarks a logo just made up of the W letter, indicates that the trademark owners are Wankers.

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

  • icon
    Sheogorath (profile), 21 Feb 2015 @ 4:13am

    I see the issue

    Evolution Finance's W is the same white as the Washington Nationals' one, although it's shorter and wider, and the two-tone green background is highly similar to the monotone blue background. Plenty of room for confusion there. /s

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Feb 2015 @ 7:41am

    Why W

    How did Evolution Finance even come up with a W for their logo?

    Hmm, let's count letters:

    A - 1
    C - 1
    E - 2
    F - 1
    I - 2
    L - 1
    N - 3
    O - 2
    U - 1
    V - 1
    W - 5

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

  • identicon
    psiu, 21 Feb 2015 @ 7:54am

    they have a strong case, though

    "The league asserts that the WalletHub logo...could create confusion for customers and create complications for both businesses."

    I'll say.

    Customers: the Cubs have a flag for winning?
    Cubs: They expect us to win?
    WalletHub: wait, no, we're good at this! Not like those guys!

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Feb 2015 @ 8:53am

    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. http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/citydesk/2011/05/06/the-law-of-the-letter-could-nats-curly- w-be-taken-away/

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Feb 2015 @ 5:55am

    Trademark Boners

    "It is common for trademark owners to sometimes overreach in protecting their marks."

    Should be read, "It is common for trademark owners to go full retard."

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Feb 2015 @ 11:30am

    Even more to the point the baseball teams have more similar colors than evolution.

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

  • icon
    JBDragon (profile), 23 Feb 2015 @ 9:33am

    I don't see how anyone could trademark the letter W. How that ever flew by?!?!? But say it's valid, it's in 2 different industries and so shouldn't even matter anyway. This is just completely dumb.

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

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 23 Feb 2015 @ 9:58am

      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.

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

  • icon
    NaBUru38 (profile), 24 Feb 2015 @ 2:23am

    The originality threshold is low in these.

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


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