It's only February, but I think we already have a pretty strong candidate for strangest baseball story of the year.
According to the Wall Street Journal, a company registered under the name of Evil Enterprises Inc. has been seeking exclusive trademark rights to the phrase “Baseballs Evil Empire” since June of 2008. Their intention? Release a clothing line — t-shirts, hats, jackets, and who knows what else — with the phrase "Baseball's Evil Empire" attached to them.
Good plan, I suppose, but there's one big problem with that. The "Evil Empire" phrase has long been associated with the New York Yankees.
In fact, it was Boston Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino who coined it back in 2002 after New York signed Jose Contreras out from underneath them. It wasn't meant to be flattering, but it stuck, and in recent seasons we've even witnessed the Yankees beginning to embrace it by playing the Imperial March during home games.
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That's why Major League Baseball immediately stepped in on their behalf to block Evil Enterprises' attempt to land the trademark. Eventually the Yankees themselves joined the fight, and apparently that's led to a long, drawn out battle that was finally settled before a panel of trademark judges in Washington D.C. earlier this month.
Here's what the judges had to say:
The panel of judges sided with the Yankees, ruling that the Yankees are strongly associated with the phrase. Allowing anyone else to use the phrase exclusively would likely cause confusion, ruled the judges.
"In short, the record shows that there is only one Evil Empire in baseball and it is the New York Yankees," wrote the judges. "Accordingly, we find that [the Yankees] have a protectable trademark right in the term . . . as used in connection with baseball."
That makes it officially official. Anytime you hear or see the phrase "Baseball's Evil Empire" it's a direct reference to the Yankees and no one else. That cool, Evil Enterprises?
Gerard Dunne, a lawyer for Evil Enterprises, said he and his client had yet to figure out whether to appeal. "But we disagree with the opinion, because we don't think "Evil Empire" exclusively refers to the Yankees anymore," he said. "You've seen it used with the Phillies, the Rangers, and other teams."
I wouldn't bother with that, Gerard. We've all heard it used in reference to other teams, sure, but the original is the original. It just doesn't pack the same punch unless you're talking about the New York Yankees, and to argue baseball fans would think anything else when looking at your apparel is fairly absurd.
We're sure you could do better anyway, so give up the battle and wow us with something original and creative.
Big BLS H/N: Larry Brown Sports
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