RED SOX DO DAMAGE ON THE FIELD AND AT THE USPTO
INTA Day 1: we wander down to Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox.
To coincide with the five days of INTA’s 141stAnnual Meeting in Boston, we’ve been taking a look back through Boston’s rich history – sporting, commercial and academic – at some of the city’s most iconic brands, inventions and institutions, which have acted as a driving force for IP generation in Massachusetts and beyond. Today we’re at Fenway Park.
Since 1912, the Red Sox have been based at Fenway Park, the oldest ballpark in Major League Baseball. Seating just under 40,000, the stadium, which is located in central Boston near Kenmore Square, is usually packed close to capacity.
Widely heralded as one of the greatest baseball teams in history, the Red Sox are now nine-time winners and current champions of the baseball World Series.
After dispatching the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-1 in the 2018 finals, the team can now boast of being the only squad to have won the World Series four times this century, a feat unmatched even by arch rivals, the New York Yankees.
Victory last October marked the end of a great year for the Red Sox, exactly one hundred years on from capturing their fourth World Series title in 1918.
However, winning did not always come easily: victory in 1918 was followed by a torrid, 86-year World Series drought, in which the title stayed tantalisingly out of grasp. During this time, there were multiple fires in the stands, and the club was beset by rumours that the “Curse of the Bambino” had struck – “Bambino” being the nickname of prized pitcher, Babe Ruth, who had helped secure the 1918 title, but later transferred to the New York Yankees, igniting rivalry between the clubs and leaving in his wake a trail of superstition – until fortunes turned again in 2004.
Indeed, fortunes continue to rise for the Red Sox. This year, Forbes has listed the club as the third most valuable team in Major League Baseball, assessing its worth at $3.2 billion, of which it attributes around $532 million to brand value. The team’s prosperity stems not only from its high ticket sales, but also its significant franchising and licensing operations, which generate additional revenue streams and see the RED SOX name and other brands used for a variety of merchandise, from baseball caps to babies’ pacifiers.
As may be expected, the team take their name from the red hose worn by the players, known as the Boston Red Stockings in the club’s infancy – this was later shortened to the Red Sox, and sometimes just BoSox or Sox. Previous nicknames have also included the Americans and Pilgrims.
The club has been careful to protect these brands, and holds US trade mark registrations for variations of many of the above names, covering a range of goods and services, from merchandise, such as clothing and jewellery, to video games and entertainment services. The club has also applied to register its 2018 rallying cry, DO DAMAGE.
The stadium, too, is rich in trade mark history. The green left field wall – despite originally being painted blue – has for many years been called the Green Monster, inspiration for the club’s mascot, a green monster named Wally, and further US registrations for GREEN MONSTER covering a range of clothing and entertainment services.
Its trade mark registrations have served the club well, and the franchise is active in pursuing oppositions against other brands which may be considered to step too close.
Previous proceedings at the USPTO have seen the Red Sox succeed in preventing registration of a figurative mark for SEX ROD for a range of clothing. Confusion between RED SOX and SEX ROD was not found likely, but the graphical format of the latter mirrored the lettering in which the Red Sox name frequently appears, so the public would draw a connection. The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board therefore upheld the opposition on the basis that the mark applied for was “scandalous and disparaging”.
Current proceedings at the USPTO include an opposition to a US application for WormSox. Again, a possible link between WormSox and the Red Sox may not be immediately apparent, but the opposition papers make interesting reading. Attorneys for the Red Sox emphasise the club’s affiliation with a Minor League Baseball team called the PawSox, which relocated to Worcester (known colloquially as “Wormtown”) allegedly on the same day the application for WormSox was filed. A trial date has recently been set and it remains to be seen how the proceedings will play out.
Anyone lacking an invitation to one of the many INTA receptions this weekend, may be cheered by catching the Red Sox live in action against the Houston Astros at Fenway Park on 18 and 19 May.