Friday, May 30, 2008

Major League Baseball misuse of IP law

I saw on The Colbert Report that Major League Baseball is telling Little League teams that they can't use the names of MLB teams unless they purchase their uniforms from MLB-authorized licensees. Nonsense--a Little League team called the A's or the Twins or the Mariners is in no danger of confusion with the MLB team, so there's no infringement.

Techdirt reports on this issue, and also that MLB is also still trying to claim ownership over game statistics, even though facts cannot be copyrighted.

Little League teams should tell MLB to take a hike.

UPDATE (June 2, 2008): The Supreme Court denied cert on MLB's lawsuit against C.B.C. Distribution and Marketing for its use of the names of MLB players and statistics for fantasy baseball, without a license from MLB. The court of appeals in St. Louis had already ruled that C.B.C. has a free speech right to use player names and statistics, which have previously been regarded as facts not subject to copyright. Some have worried that this ruling will endanger licensing arrangements regarding the use of celebrity names, but cases that involve an endorsement of a product seem to me to be clearly distinguishable from this case.

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