If you’ve ever visited San Francisco, you’ve likely seen — and perhaps purchased — a coat or sweatshirt emblazoned with the city name in a distinctive script font, much like the “San Francisco” on jackets and other gear worn by the San Francisco Giants baseball team. Well, now the team, along with Major League Baseball, finds itself in a legal battle with the apparel company that says it owns the trademark.
The Giants have been selling merchandise with the script “San Francisco” since 1993, but neither the team nor MLB actually trademarked the design.
So earlier this year, Gogo Sports Inc., the company behind the souvenir-wear scored the trademark on its script logo and MLB’s subsequent attempt to trademark the Giants logo was blocked by a Patent and Trademark examiner, who found the team logo “virtually identical” to the Gogo one.
After receiving a cease and desist notice from MLB, claiming Gogo was infringing on the Giants’ trademarked logo, the apparel company sued the both the baseball team and the league in late September, asking a federal court for a declaratory judgment that Gogo indeed has a valid trademark and can continue selling its wares without being bothered by the baseball folks.
However, SF Weekly spoke to trademark attorneys and found:
[T]he Giants are actually in a commanding legal position. Federal law “also protects unregistered trademarks,” says Golden Gate University law professor William Gallagher. “If the Giants have been using the script logo on their merchandise for years, it’s likely they’ll have strong trademark rights based on use alone.”
In fact, since the team can assuredly establish prior use of a logo deemed “virtually identical” to Gogo’s, it’s the clothing company that may be facing the legal equivalent of a Brian Wilson heater.
We think whoever loses should have to spend a day locked in a room with Brian Wilson and his product-shilling jet black beard.
Giants Get Sued Over Team’s “San Francisco” Logo [SF Weekly]
Thanks to James for the tip!