Boston Red Sox legend David Ortiz once said of Boston, "This is our f***ing city." Someone at MLB apparently tried to test the validity of that theory.
Eyebrows were raised when it appeared that the Red Sox filed a trademark application for the word "Boston." Can a sports team really "own" the name of the city in which it plays?
That's not exactly what happened. Yes, a trademark application was filed, but it wasn't the Red Sox's doing. MLB apparently filed the application, per the Boston Herald. The Red Sox claim they were unaware of the filing and have since asked the league to rescind the application.
Team owner John Henry released a statement to the Herald stating that the team was not responsible for the filing.
“On March 17, Major League Baseball initiated, oversaw, and directed a trademark application on behalf of three of its clubs, including the Boston Red Sox. Major League Baseball — not the Boston Red Sox — initiated this filing. Today, at our request, MLB has agreed to withdraw the application. MLB’s intent was to protect these clubs’ use of their city name in connection with professional baseball services and apparel, not an attempt to own the city name or prevent others from using the city name.”
As Henry noted, MLB reportedly filed similar trademark applications for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners. The applications, if granted, would cover goods — such as clothing — and entertainment.
The application for the word "Boston" was considered aggressive, per a law professor who spoke to the Herald.
“They’re seeking the rights to the word ‘Boston’ itself, and the government should flat-out reject this,” Boston University School of Law Professor Stacey Dogan said to the Herald ”The word ‘Boston’ has a zillion different meanings. It doesn’t refer specifically to this team.”
The Red Sox seem to agree.