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   NFL/MLB - use of team, player names
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   Author  Topic: NFL/MLB - use of team, player names  (Read 5988 times)
landerman
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NFL/MLB - use of team, player names
« on: Apr 1st, 2007, 8:11pm »
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I would like to start a website where part of the content would be NFL and MLB team names and player names.  I would not be selling products with the names on it. The site would be a service related to fantasy sports.
 
Do I need a license to list the player names? The team names?
 
What if I wanted to add team logos? Player photos?
 
I appreciate any advice.
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JW
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Re: NFL/MLB - use of team, player names
« Reply #1 on: Sep 23rd, 2007, 4:53pm »
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did you ever get your answer? or response to your inquiry?
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legallink
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Re: NFL/MLB - use of team, player names
« Reply #2 on: Oct 25th, 2007, 10:10pm »
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Generally speaking, the players names, and the team names are copyrighted, and you would have to license them to use them in a for profit setting.  However, if you called a baseball team the Jets, and and football the Yankees, you would be perfectly fine, as they don't own the word itself.
 
If it is a service related to fantasy sports, how would you not be selling products with names on it?
 
However, there have been several cases on this and there is one currently where MLB is arguing against fantasy basseball leagues.  The fantasy baseball leagues won the first bout, but it is on appeal.
 
More info would be needed on how you actually plan on using the names, and whether there is any profit that you are going to make.  But take for instance in video games, to sell the games with player names and team names in them, they have to license these from the MLB or NFL.
 
You could go either way, just watch the courts in case the appeal comes down the other way...then say hello to licensing fees.
 
Cheers,
Jeff
« Last Edit: Oct 25th, 2007, 10:20pm by legallink » IP Logged
JSonnabend
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Re: NFL/MLB - use of team, player names
« Reply #3 on: Oct 26th, 2007, 11:36am »
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Well, Legallink is pretty far off base with his response.
 
First of all, teams do not have "copyrights" on their names.  The names are protected as trademarks, however.
 
Second, player names are protected neither by copyright nor by trademark (although in certain limited instances a player's name might be trademarked, but that would be unusual).
 
Third, profit alone is not determinative of liability.  You could be infringing without making a penny (or even charging a penny), and you could be free and clear of infringement while raking in the dough.  Profit, etc., may be relevant in terms of fair use.
 
- Jeff
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SonnabendLaw
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legallink
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Re: NFL/MLB - use of team, player names
« Reply #4 on: Oct 30th, 2007, 8:08pm »
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I'm not quite sure how you would say I am completely off base, as the case was under appeal until a few days ago.  And I think many would argue the other way.
 
As far as I know, you cannot call yourself the New York Yankees and claim you didn't know it was trademarked.
 
I apologize for saying they were copyrighted, when they are trademarked, but it amounts to the same thing in this instance.
 
And I didn't state nor infer that for profit was the sole determinative factor, but it is a substantial factor.
 
And lastly, there are many a game and institution that do not use player names because they have to be licensed.  
 
If you want to add an addendum or further clarify, by all means, but I wasn't off base.
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