Categories: EsportsIndustrySports

MLB to File Trademark Claim Over Overwatch League Logo

Overwatch League is a professional esports league for the video game Overwatch. The League is aiming to provide a loyal city-based fan base for the franchise. Blizzard revealed the names of the founding members of the league on 12th July 2017. The Overwatch League will provide a structure for esports players to go professional.

Blizzard aims to make the Overwatch league the next big turn in esports. However, it is already facing a big obstacle in the form of Major League Baseball. After announcing details about the Overwatch League last week, Blizzard has been moving at a swift pace in order to include more franchises into the League.

Major League Baseball ( MLB) has decided to file an opposition claim to the trademark logo submitted by the Overwatch League. Their contention is that there are huge similarities between the two logos. This might confuse viewers since both the companies are involved in sports entertainment areas. Viewers might be inclined to think that MLB is a part of the Overwatch League, which is definitely not true.

Trademark registration is a transparent process. Any firm which has a problem with any new trademark submitted for registration can voice their opposition to the same. There are fixed deadlines to submit the opposition.

According to a statement on the Morrison Lee website “Once trademarks are approved, they’re published in the Official Gazette. This is essentially a weekly newsletter by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Upon publication, other parties who believe they may be harmed by the impending registration of the mark have 30 days to file one of two things with the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (“TTAB”): an opposition to the trademark or a request for more time to file that opposition. If neither of these is filed or if an opposition is unsuccessful, the application will move to the next stage of the registration process without issue. If one of these is filed, however, the TTAB takes the reigns”.

The Overwatch League logo was first published on March 28, 2017. MLB immediately took notice of the logo and its similarities with their own logo. One day prior to the 30-day deadline for voicing any opposition, MLB put forth a request for an extension of 90 days to prepare their opposition to the logo. The extension was requested on the basis of their need to claim and confer with their counsel. The extension request was accepted on the same day in a surprising and swift course of action by the US Trademarks office.

Are the Logos Similar?

The MLB Logo is shown below. It features a player wielding a bat and possibly hitting the ball. It is a two tone color image, which clearly describes the sport that it’s supposed to represent. The player outline is shown facing left. So are the two logos similar? We are posting the two logos below, for you to compare.

The Overwatch league has a completely different color tone. Instead of the red and blue color for MLB, the OWL features an Orange and Black two tone color. There is no bat or ball, instead, the character is holding guns as her primary weapon.

Some might argue that Overwatch League logo might have similarities to the MLB Logo, but frankly, it is a long shot. MLB has asked for time to consult their counsel and it is not yet confirmed that they will be submitting an opposition to the same.

The big question is if the trademarks actually tread on each other’s similarities. The comparisons drawn in the original article on Morrison Lee website mention the two tone color and the direction the character is facing. If such similarities are applied to other logos, we see a big conflict of interest on a big number of sports logos with similar tones.

Similar Features in the Logos

There have been a variety of issues raised which point towards the similarities between the two logos in the article.

  • Tracer is inspired by the baseball player character in MLB Logo
  • Both characters face the same direction ( left )
  • The contrasting colors are separated by the character’s outline
  • Both logos feature the same rectangular shape
  • Virtually same text layout, but different fonts

A reddit user posted a collage of all similar logos put together. The similarities are striking as can see the two tone color being a very prominent theme in sports logos.

The official deadline for MLB to submit its opposition is July 26th. Post the submission it will be in the hands of Trademark Trial and Appeal board, United States Patent and Trademark Office. If they do take a decision against the Overwatch League logo, Blizzard might have to redesign the logo in a way which does not infringe upon the trademark claims by MLB.

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Rohan Samal

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