Overwatch League finally seemed to be making progress towards its inaugural season when Blizzard confirmed last week that it would open play later this year with seven teams, but the league could be in a bit of trouble with another league. Major League Baseball is apparently concerned that Overwatch League’s logo is too similar to its own.
New York law firm Morrison/Lee notes that MLB became concerned about the logos’ similarities as soon as Overwatch League’s logo was published in the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s Official Gazette. The Gazette publishes new registrations explicitly to give existing rights holders the opportunity to file an opposition to a new a trademark or a request for more time to file said opposition. One day shy of the 30-day deadline to make one of those two filings, MLB submitted its request for an extension, which the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board granted.
Specifically, MLB received the 90 days it requested to review the Overwatch League logo with its counsel and decide how to move forward. Morrison/Lee notes that while the Trademark Office typically moves slowly, it granted the extension the same day it was filed. MLB now has until July 26 to submit an opposition to the logo.
To block Overwatch League from using the logo, MLB would need to show that the two are similar enough to either confuse some consumers about which is which or create an impression that the two leagues are affiliated in some way. Whether the similarities are enough to warrant yanking the logo from Overwatch League is for the Trademark Office to decide, should MLB file an opposition claim. But the logos do both have a rectangular shape and two background colors broken by a white figure facing leftward.
Overwatch League would hardly be the only professional league with a logo bearing some of those same features of MLB’s design, though. Though more vertical in shape, the NBA logo features a red and blue background broken up by the white silhouette of a basketball player.
While Overwatch League, announced in November 2016, is still without a date for its opening day, Blizzard has previously announced plans for the first season to begin in 2017. Blizzard spent part of the spring taking a public flogging took for reportedly charging up to $20 million for franchise purchases. Now its esports league is again in the news for the wrong reasons.