Nobody ever seems to believe me when I say this, but San Francisco gets chilly. It is cold most of the time. And foggy. The warmest time of year is right now, in late October. If you come to visit in July, and you stay in the city, and you will get cold.
That’s why every San Francisco tourist ever buys those cheesy sweatshirts with “San Francisco” written on them in a font that strangely resembles one of the main logos for our
hugely disappointing championship-winning major-league baseball team, the Giants. Actually, it might be exactly the same logo. The baseball team is currently in a trademark dispute with the clothing company from Hayward (Oakland’s smaller, crappier neighbor to the south) over rights to the logo.
But hold on, the Giants have been using it for almost 20 years. They must have gotten the rights locked down years ago, right? Oopsies….
From the Consumerist:
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’s site is apparently “down for maintenance” at the moment), 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.
You can see the lawsuit here.
Golden Gate University law professor William Gallagher told the SF Weekly that the Giants are on pretty sturdy legal ground, because the law “also protects unregistered trademarks” based on “use alone.” At least that’s what I think the article is saying, even though the writer and his trademark attorney sources’ attempts to spice up IP law with horrendous baseball puns mostly serve to confuse the issue:
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. Asked to assess the Giants’ legal position in baseball terms, trademark attorneys Milord Keshishian and Anthony Malutta, of Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton, both said the G-Men have loaded up the bases with no one out. To this scenario Keshishian added that Barry Bonds is at the plate. An earlier iteration of Bonds, say 1993 — back when the team could have trademarked its logo and avoided this whole mess.
It seems like quite a screw-up that nobody at the Franchise or the league took care of this over the course of two decades. But I’m no trademark law expert. If you have some idea of the reasonable explanation for this oversight, please share in the comments.
P.S. I will be attending the Computer Forensics Show in San Francisco today and tomorrow. Please drop me a line at email@example.com or on Twitter @chrisdanzig if you will be there also. Watch out for more coverage of the event later this week.
Christopher Danzig is a writer in Oakland, California. He previously covered legal technology for InsideCounsel magazine. Follow Chris on Twitter @chrisdanzig or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can read more of his work at chrisdanzig.com..