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Atlanta Braves and Disney Battle Over Trademark

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Disney's Pixar Brave

Disney's Pixar Brave

Disney is no stranger to high profile trademark stories — remember when the company filed and later withdrew an application for Seal Team 6? — and now it finds itself fighting for the rights to use and register an upcoming movie title. The Pixar production called “Brave” is scheduled to be released in the summer of 2012, but Major League Baseball’s Atlanta Braves aren’t happy about its name.

Although the team doesn’t own a trademark in “Brave” (singular), the organization nonetheless contends that the term has been used when referring to individual players (e.g. “Atlanta Brave Chipper Jones”) and has otherwise been used in merchandising. Moreover (and more importantly in the trademark context), the Braves insist, Disney’s use of the word “Brave” could damage its brand.

“Brave” the film is about a princess in Scotland who must save the day with her talent for archery; it was originally titled “The Bear and the Bow” and is Pixar’s first fairy tale. The Atlanta Braves are not princesses, although this controversy could definitely lead to them being labeled prima donnas.

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Disney has been registering for various uses of “Brave” with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for a year now. Ironically, the Braves hold spring training at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at the Walt Disney World Resort, and, of course, the Braves name itself has been a controversial issues over the years because of its connection with Native-American culture.

The Braves have until January 18, 2012 to file a formal opposition to Disney’s applications for the “Brave” trademark. Oppositions are heard by the Trademark Trial and Appeals Board (TTAB) but the two sides are said to be working toward a mutually agreeable conclusion, so it may not come to that.

What do you think? Do the Braves own “Brave” as well? Would you confuse Disney’s archer-princess with Chipper Jones? Do other MLB teams have the right to oppose trademarks for variations on their names?

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December 28th, 2011 at 2:02 pm