from the play-ball dept
Everyone should know by now that language is ever evolving. New, cultural, or colloquial words get added to the dictionary. In addition, existing words attain new definitions, typically contextual definitions. Like the word "diamond", for instance, which has a different definition when spoken in the context of baseball. In baseball lingo, the diamond is in the filed, or infield, and the term is as common as "bat", or "ball", or "single." And, yet, two makers of baseball equipment are now in a trademark legal spat over the word "diamond."
Cooperstown Bat Co. has asked U.S. Magistrate Judge David Peebles to declare that its use of "Pro Diamond" on its bats doesn't infringe on the trademark of a California sports-equipment manufacturer. Cooperstown Bat Co. sued Diamond Baseball Co. in federal court in Syracuse in response to Diamond Baseballs' demand that Cooperstown Bat stop using the name. Diamond Baseball sent a "cease and desist" letter to Cooperstown Bat in December, demanding that it remove "Pro Diamond" from its web site and send all of its bats with that mark on it to Diamond for destruction.Complicating this is that Major League Baseball has a rule for bat manufacturers that an ink dot must be on any bat constructed of maple or birch wood, in order that players and teams can better see the quality of the wood grains, which is an indication of the strength of the wood. Cooperstown Bat began using a diamond for its ink dot because, again, baseball. Shortly after, Cooperstown Bat began marketing these professional grade wooden bats under the "Pro Diamond" brand, after which Diamond Baseball sent out its C&D notices.
But, in the context of baseball, how in the world is "diamond" not generic? Cooperstown Bats brings this up in its filing.
"The word 'diamond' has been used generically to refer to a baseball field, and more specifically, the four-cornered part of a baseball field in which the corners are the three bases and the home plate, for well over 100 years," Cooperstown Bat's lawsuit said.Adding to the silliness of this is that the two companies don't even make the same equipment. Cooperstown Bats makes -- you guessed it -- baseball bats. It also sells a few accessories and apparel as well, but it's a baseball bat company. Diamond Baseball makes baseballs, softballs and catchers gear. Both are in the baseball business, but they don't make the same products and, again, in the baseball business the word "diamond" is as generic as "field."
It's high time the trademark office began a stricter policy on these types of generic marks. Sadly, we've seen little to indicate its willingness to do so.