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Overwatch League’s logo could hit a snag with Major League Baseball

Filing hints at a challenge before Trademark Office

Overwatch League Blizzard Entertainment

A procedural filing before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office suggests that Major League Baseball may be planning to challenge the new Overwatch League's logo.

The blog of the Morrison/Lee law firm in New York notes that in late April, MLB requested a 90-day extension of time to oppose the Overwatch League's application for trademark on its logo, and was granted it. The filing was made and granted a day before a 30-day window to oppose new trademark applications was set to close.

MLB’s logo has been in use since 1969.
Major League Baseball

MLB hasn't indicated what its problem is, if any, with the Overwatch League's logo, but the two share broad similarities. Both are rectangular and tri-colored, with the white silhouette of a player facing left against a two-color background, with the league's name underneath.

It's possible that MLB feels the logos are similar enough either to cause brand confusion — that is, make people believe the two are affiliated when they aren't — or dilute MLB's brand and the distinctiveness of its logo.

Major League Baseball's logo was adopted in 1969. (The silhouette is not, according to a popular claim, Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew. The designer, Jerry Dior, insists it is a generic batter.)

Since then, a white silhouette against a solid or contrasting color background has been used by several leagues and sports organizations in North America, including the PGA Tour, Major League Gaming, the Indy Racing League and, most notably, the National Basketball Association (whose logo was designed in 1969).

MLB has until July 26 to submit its opposition, if it has any, to the Overwatch League's trademark application. The matter is before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board of the USPTO. It's also possible MLB and the Overwatch League are discussing things privately in the time granted by the USPTO's extension.

The Blizzard-owned Overwatch League was announced in November. It will feature permanent franchises — two weeks ago, ESPN reported that Blizzard had agreements for franchises in six cities in the United States, South Korea and China.

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