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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Atlanta Braves in trademark dispute with Pixar over “Brave”

While I will not claim to be an expert in trademark law, this feels extremely frivolous on the part of the Braves. To my knowledge (and following a quick search on Google), the New York Mets have never sued either the Metropolitan Museum of Art, commonly referred to as “The Met,” or the Metropolitan Opera House, which is also commonly referred to as “The Met.” And all three of these well-known establishments are based in New York. But now the Atlanta Braves (who, coincidentally, are a major rival of the NY Mets) have not only chosen to go after a globally-known organization, but a globally-known organization that is famous for their lawyers.

They don’t call it the Mickey Mouse Act for nothing.

The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: December 20, 2011 at 01:32 AM | 32 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: braves, business

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   1. zachtoma Posted: December 20, 2011 at 02:11 AM (#4019754)
So that's what they've been up to this offseason.
   2. The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: December 20, 2011 at 02:18 AM (#4019761)
I mainly wanted to link to something from The Mary Sue. Suck it, doods!
   3. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: December 20, 2011 at 02:21 AM (#4019766)
My understanding of this kind of stuff is that the legal situation is such that the Braves either have to do this to protect their trademark, or risk losing it. Or, more probably, they decided to do this and not take any chances on the whims of any particular court making things difficult for them in future cases.

What's never been sufficiently explained to me is why if this is the case, we allow the law to continue down this path? The Braves know full well it's ludicrous, everybody does, but somehow the law supersedes all that and forces legal action so that they don't lose their trademark.
   4. The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: December 20, 2011 at 02:25 AM (#4019768)
the Braves either have to do this to protect their trademark, or risk losing it.


That's my understanding too, and I have the same question.
   5. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: December 20, 2011 at 02:34 AM (#4019782)
My understanding of this kind of stuff is that the legal situation is such that the Braves either have to do this to protect their trademark, or risk losing it. Or, more probably, they decided to do this and not take any chances on the whims of any particular court making things difficult for them in future cases.

What's never been sufficiently explained to me is why if this is the case, we allow the law to continue down this path? The Braves know full well it's ludicrous, everybody does, but somehow the law supersedes all that and forces legal action so that they don't lose their trademark.


Any sane person would have the same question. OTOH the fact that it's ####### Disney they're suing almost makes me want to root for the Braves. Talk about a corporation that richly deserves a taste of its own medicine.
   6. Srul Itza Posted: December 20, 2011 at 02:45 AM (#4019793)
OTOH the fact that it's ####### Disney they're suing



They are NOT suing anyone.

They have not threatened anyone with a suit.

Disney filed a trademark application for the word "Brave".

The Atlanta Braves have filed an objection to the application.

They are in negotiations, and will probably come to some kind of deal.
   7. Barnaby Jones Posted: December 20, 2011 at 03:04 AM (#4019810)
It would be pretty hilarious if the Mets sued two 19th century institutions for trademark infringement.
   8. Dale Sams Posted: December 20, 2011 at 03:08 AM (#4019812)
I mainly wanted to link to something from The Mary Sue. Suck it, doods!


I promptly proceeded to link on FB the article about Super-heroines doing self-exams for breast cancer. And to snark that the men who read comics have larger breasts than any super-heroine, and that they know to take off their costumes when doing exams.
   9. Benji Gil Gamesh Rises Posted: December 20, 2011 at 03:14 AM (#4019818)
They are NOT suing anyone.

They have not threatened anyone with a suit.
I might be completely mistaken, but too, I thought that filing C&Ds; and the like was enough to defend your trademark, that you didn't necessarily have to bring suit.
   10. Srul Itza Posted: December 20, 2011 at 03:25 AM (#4019830)
I might be completely mistaken, but too, I thought that filing C&Ds; and the like was enough to defend your trademark, that you didn't necessarily have to bring suit.


It is NOT a Cease and Desist, either.

DISNEY has filed a trademark application. They do not have a trademark yet.

The Braves have filed an objection to the application. They HAVE NOT asserted that Disney has violated their trademark.
   11. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: December 20, 2011 at 03:29 AM (#4019834)
OTOH the fact that it's ####### Disney they're suing

They are NOT suing anyone.


Well, can they at least go upside Robert Iger's head with a Chipper Jones commemorative bat?
   12. TerpNats Posted: December 20, 2011 at 03:40 AM (#4019845)
Don't the Braves train at a Disney-owned site in Orlando?
   13. zonk Posted: December 20, 2011 at 03:40 AM (#4019846)
I'm confused. Do we all need to keep sending Disney monthly checks for using their American English language or not?
   14. stevegamer Posted: December 20, 2011 at 03:45 AM (#4019853)
Basically, Disney needs to be told to go #### themselves. Props to the Braves here, as trademark-happy companies are bad. I think McDonalds tried something with taverns or restaurants in the UK and ended up going after companies that predated them. As expected, that would be completely frivolous.

Unfortunately, what needs to happen is that a judge finds for the defendant in the case, and forces the mega-corp to pay out the wazoo to the little guy who is older.
   15. Lassus Posted: December 20, 2011 at 04:15 AM (#4019881)
Unfortunately, what needs to happen is that a judge finds for the defendant in the case, and forces the mega-corp to pay out the wazoo to the little guy who is older.

Ted Turner's net worth is over 2 billion dollars.
   16. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: December 20, 2011 at 04:19 AM (#4019887)
Right, isn't the more ridiculous action here that Disney is trying to trademark the word "Brave"?
   17. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: December 20, 2011 at 04:24 AM (#4019890)
Unfortunately, what needs to happen is that a judge finds for the defendant in the case, and forces the mega-corp to pay out the wazoo to the little guy who is older.


Ted Turner's net worth is over 2 billion dollars.

Well, even if Turner still owned the Braves, Disney's net worth is about 20 times that. It's all relative.
   18. PreservedFish Posted: December 20, 2011 at 04:24 AM (#4019892)
The real creative infringement is on the movie Braveheart. This appears to be the same exact movie, except with a little girl instead of Mel Gibson. Is it an adaptation or something?
   19. The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: December 20, 2011 at 04:44 AM (#4019900)
Is it an adaptation or something?


More historically accurate.
   20. Voros McCracken of Pinkus Posted: December 20, 2011 at 04:59 AM (#4019919)
Right, isn't the more ridiculous action here that Disney is trying to trademark the word "Brave"?

I dunno, trying to determine who is right and wrong in a struggle between two multi-million dollar businesses arguing over which one owns the word 'brave' seems a little pointless. Neither one does, so neither one is 'right.'
   21. Xander Posted: December 20, 2011 at 05:11 AM (#4019929)
Hard for me to ever picture Disney wielding any power or having any sway within trademark or copyright law.
   22. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: December 20, 2011 at 05:52 AM (#4019955)
I dunno, trying to determine who is right and wrong in a struggle between two multi-million dollar businesses arguing over which one owns the word 'brave' seems a little pointless. Neither one does, so neither one is 'right.'

My understanding is that the Braves are merely trying to prevent Disney from trademarking the word, they are not trying to do so themselves, nor are they trying to prevent Disney from using the word in the title of their movie. So I still think Disney is being the ridiculous one. But I may be wrong on the facts. The size of the corporations involved is less important than the principles.
   23. Gonfalon Bubble Posted: December 20, 2011 at 09:39 AM (#4019969)
At least we finally know why the Mets have refused for years to give the manager's job to Wall-E Backman.
   24. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: December 20, 2011 at 11:20 AM (#4019981)
My understanding is that the Braves are merely trying to prevent Disney from trademarking the word, they are not trying to do so themselves, nor are they trying to prevent Disney from using the word in the title of their movie. So I still think Disney is being the ridiculous one. But I may be wrong on the facts. The size of the corporations involved is less important than the principles.
My old boss is rolling over in his bed. (He's not dead, so no grave.) Trademark is not a verb. You don't "trademark" something. A trademark is a noun; something is either a trademark or it isn't. You can register a trademark (which gives you certain rights), but that's not what creates a trademark; using it is. (That is, using it in a trademark sense, which involves using the mark as a source identifier.)


I dunno, trying to determine who is right and wrong in a struggle between two multi-million dollar businesses arguing over which one owns the word 'brave' seems a little pointless. Neither one does, so neither one is 'right.'
Trademark is not copyright. Possessing a trademark in a word is not "owning" the word. Apple Inc., f/k/a Apple Computer Inc., owns a trademark in the word "Apple." That does not mean they "own the word apple." Neither do the makers of Crest toothpaste, Zenith televisions, or Coach handbags own the words 'crest,' 'zentih,' or 'coach.' It means they have certain rights to exploit the words Apple, Crest, Zenith, or Coach, respectively, in commercial contexts. (Apple famously had a long-running dispute with the Beatles' Apple Records over the use of the word in relation to music.)

If Disney is putting out a movie called "Brave," then we can be certain they intend to sell all sorts of merchandise which will be identified with the word 'Brave.' T-Shirts, toys, lunch boxes, video games. The Atlanta Braves also use the word on all sorts of merchandise, obviously. They both want to ensure there's no confusion.
   25. Lassus Posted: December 20, 2011 at 11:58 AM (#4019983)
David - I have no doubt everything you say is accurate, except the last sentence. They want to assure there's not a lost nickel. I know confusion is what might cause that, but I placing that as the ultimate care just sounds kind of wrong.
   26. The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: December 20, 2011 at 12:27 PM (#4019986)
It means they have certain rights to exploit the words Apple, Crest, Zenith, or Coach, respectively, in commercial contexts.


It was my understanding that the trademarks they own basically mean that they have a pretty big legal club to whack anyone else considering using the word in a commercial context, which is why for example HTC had to license the trademark Droid from George Lucas for their phone. That's a sketchier legal area where it appears at first glance there's some rent extraction going on.
   27. Tippecanoe Posted: December 20, 2011 at 01:42 PM (#4019998)
I know it isn't Oxford's, but according to Dictionary.com, trademark is a verb.
   28. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: December 20, 2011 at 02:10 PM (#4020008)
"Trademark" is a verb. As a legal term of art it's a noun, but in ordinary usage it can also be used as a verb.

The Braves are doing exactly what they need to do. Their mark isn't in much danger since any disney rights to "Brave" are going to be extremely limited, but the Braves shouldn't sit back and wait for a problem to arise.
   29. Kurt Posted: December 20, 2011 at 02:46 PM (#4020026)
It was my understanding that the trademarks they own basically mean that they have a pretty big legal club to whack anyone else considering using the word in a commercial context

Generally true, though I would say it's more of a specific commercial context. There are examples I can't remember at the moment of two separate entities using the same term to identify completely unrelated products. Supermarkets can use the word "Apple" in a commercial context to sell apples, because there's no confusion and no attempt to piggyback off the good name of Jobs' Apple.

As David says though, you acquire and own a trademark by using it, not by registering it. egistering just allows you to collect statutory damages.
   30. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: December 20, 2011 at 07:17 PM (#4020342)
#24 - ok, thanks for correcting us on the semantics. Could you please explain what that means for practical purposes, though? Upon having registered the trademark, what will Disney be able to do that they could not do before? What are they trying to protect themselves against? What are the Braves trying to protect themselves against by objecting to it? Thanks.
   31. Kurt Posted: December 20, 2011 at 07:20 PM (#4020346)
Upon having registered the trademark, what will Disney be able to do that they could not do before?

See the last sentence of #29, after you stick an "R" at its beginning.
   32. Athletic Supporter is trying to remember your name Posted: December 20, 2011 at 07:27 PM (#4020357)
#23 is excellent.

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