As The Cubs Head To The World Series, The Team Is Also Raging Against Single-Word Trademarks

from the mind-your-c's-and-w's dept

On the bright side, I suppose, if the plan by the Cubs was to undertake an overly aggressive stance on trademark protection every round of the playoffs, there's only one round left, so this should be it. We had just been discussing that as the team entered the League Series to attempt to make the World Series, it had filed a lawsuit against the many street vendors that line the path to Wrigley Field for selling counterfeit merchandise. This suit, while perfectly within the rights of the team, bucked a decades-long trend of allowing those sales. It was part of the tradition of going to a game, walking by these vendors and seeing their kooky designs. Another tradition for the team is raising a blue "W" flag whenever they win. That "W" was part of trademark opposition by the Cubs and MLB when a business unrelated to the professional sports market dared to use the single letter in a logo for its financial services product.

And now it seems that, on the eve of the World Series, the Cubs are going after more than one kind of W still, as well as the letter C.

On October 17, one day after losing Game 2 of the National League Championship Series to the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Cubs filed two TTAB oppositions against trademark applications pending with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). One mark, filed by Laserwave Graphics, Inc., is for a design that includes the letter “W”. Another, submitted by CopyClear, contains a large “C” with accompanying letters that spell out the company’s name.

Here are the two logos in question. Note how the first makes it extremely clear what company it represents, while the other is simply a "W."


That image, unfortunately, is grayed out, while the Cubs claim that the colors being used within the logos plays a part in its opposition. Let's take those images in reverse order. The "W" is in the trademark application for Laserwave Graphics, which does imaging, branding, and printing on a variety of products. The "W" design appears to be mostly used on watches. The Cubs claim that some of these watch designs also incorporate baseballs, hence the problem. Except we're still talking about a single letter, in a different font, used in a market for which the Cubs are not well known. It's difficult to believe people are looking at these watches and thinking "Cubs."

As for the Copy Clear logo, it's somewhat ironic that Copy Clear's business is in licensing copyrights. The Cubs make much of the fact that the "C" in Copy Clear's logo is red, similar to the red "C" in the team's logo. Which is strange, because on their website, the Copy Clear logo is black with a green background. But even if a red version of the logo indeed exists, the company's name is spelled out within it as well. Where precisely is the customer confusion going to exist here? The "C" is clearly a reference to the registered copyright symbol, not to the Cubs, and it seems like everyone would make that connection.

So, my dear, dear Cubs: I love you, but it's probably time to stop worrying so much about how others are using letters that you use as well. Just go out and win this thing, please.

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