July 13, 2012

Wilson and Rawlings refuse to play ball nicely

Brandon Phillips poses with the gloves at the heart of the lawsuit.

I missed this somehow during the All Star break, but last Friday, Rawlings filed suit against Wilson in Federal Court. This is all because of the gold on the glove that Cincinnati Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips uses.

Rawlings Sporting Goods created the Gold Glove Award in 1957 to give to excellent defensive baseball players. It is awarded each year to one player per position in the National and American Leagues. The trophy is a golden glove.

Gold Glove winners also get a special Rawlings baseball glove “that includes metallic gold indicia on the glove itself,” according to the federal complaint.

Phillips has a contract with Wilson to provide his gloves, and they have made a special one for him that has some gold trim on it. Obviously, this is an allusion to the Gold Glove Awards that Phillips has won. And that has angered Rawlings.

“Not only is Mr. Phillips using the infringing Wilson glove in the field during games, warm-ups, and practices, but defendant and Mr. Phillips also have promoted the very existence of the glove (and its connection to Wilson) through various channels and media,” the complaint states.

Rawlings wants Wilson enjoined from distributing any glove that contains “gold webbing, gold-colored fabrics or leather, gold lettering, gold stitching, any other metallic gold-colored material, or any other features that are confusingly similar” to Rawlings’ Gold Glove trademarks. It also seeks damages for trademark infringement, unfair competition, trademark dilution and false advertising.

It’s difficult to trademark or copyright a color, but Rawlings certainly has a case here. This lawsuit is only between the two glove makers, and Phillips is serving basically as evidence. We’ll see how this plays out, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see Phillips have to stop using those golden gloves.

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