MLB’s Heavy Hand

Here’s a recent post by my friend Nathan Siegel.  It concerns a recent brush back pitch that Major League Baseball aimed at Apple warning the company that certain podcasts available on iTunes possibly violated the “trademarks of Major League Baseball and certain Clubs.”  I’m not sure why baseball officials call teams “clubs.” Just like I never understood why former Reds announcer George Grande insisted on calling St. Louis “the Redbirds” and Pittsburgh “the Buccos.”  But I digress. 

Nathan’s point is that heavy handed tactics aside, the podcasts in all likelihood didn’t violate any trademarks and are protected by the First Amendment in any event. I won’t steal Nathan’s thunder, but in its most simple terms, the First Amendment allows us (on a podcast or otherwise) to talk about current events. Including our favorite teams.  And it’s pretty tough to talk about those teams without, you know, using their names. 

The key precedent arose from litigation over a 1986 film entitled “Ginger and Fred.”   And while Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers were a dance team, not a double play combination, the precedent applies to baseball.

Maybe George Grande referred to the Cardinals and Pirates by those stupid nicknames because he was afraid of trademark implications.  Feel free to forward this to George to ease his mind!