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MLB Takes on Cape Cod League in Trademark Spat

The Cape Cod Baseball league is a 10 team amateur summer league that has produced approximately 200 players who went on to play in the major leagues.

Six of the ten Cape Cod League teams share names with MLB franchises. The Chatham A’s, Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox, Harwich Mariners, Bourne Braves, Orleans Cardinals, and the Hyannis Mets are now the center of a trademark dispute.

According to Cape League sources, the six teams in the 10-team Cape League that share nicknames with major league franchises are facing a choice: Purchase all future uniforms and souvenir merchandise from more expensive MLB-licensed vendors or lose the annual grant.

MLB is also requesting an 11 percent royalty on sales next summer of existing inventory from the six affected Cape League teams. Non-clothing items such as coffee mugs and teddy bears that are not available through MLB vendors could no longer be sold. (source)

As lame as that is, from the Cape Cod Times report, it doesn’t seem to be quite as bad as some commentators are making it out to be. See, e.g., Techdirt. As far as I can see, MLB is not threatening a lawsuit, but merely threatening to revoke its $100,000 grant that it provides to the Cape Cod League’s $1.5 million annual budget.

I do sympathize with the Cape Cod League. However, it seems to break down to this: MLB gives the Cape Cod League $100,000 a year. In exchange, MLB wants the Cape Cod League to buy stuff from MLB’s friends. The Cape Cod League doesn’t need to accept the grant. In fact, I interviewed a high ranking Cape Cod League official who gave this comment:

Bro, you don’t even fahckin know guy, MLB was like fahckin cool about us usin’ the team names fah yeahs. Now, all outta nowheah, these fahckin pricks ah sayin’ we gotta buy ah shirts and hats from them?

So I says to Sully I says “Dood, should I fahck him up?” and Sully’s like “I dunno guy, you’re pretty hammahd. Then I called my Ma and tole her to leave the door unlocked cuz I’ll be home wicked late tonight.

Fahkin faghet it. I ain’t buyin’ shit from those bastids. Take ya hundred lahge and throw it in the habah.

Ok, maybe that is 100% fabricated, but that’s what I would say.

Of course, if MLB actually threatens a lawsuit against the Cape Cod League, my analysis might be different.

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