I am currently in the process of creating a website that presents opinions on the latest baseball news as well as allow the user to report his or her own opinions. I wanted to have my home page show the logos of all 30 teams and when you click on one, it takes you to that team's page so that you can begin posting. I do run/plan on running advertisements so I will be making money off of the site itself, but not in any way off of the logos. Would I be allowed to do this?
The answer is likely not without approval from MLB under the circumstances. Place yourself in the shoes of MLB. If someone went to the site as you plan it, knowing nothing else, could they reasonably assume that you have some association or affiliation with MLB or the teams or that they have in some way approved of your site or what you are doing? The issue is that there would be a misleading implication of an association of some sort between you and MLB (or the respective teams). You would need a license from MLB (or if it is the case that the teams can separately license, a license from each team) to show the logos.
There is a potential aspect of fair use with respect to aspects of what you want to do, for example, referring to the team names (NOT their logos), so you should check with a trademark attorney who can help guide you as to what you can and cannot do and to help you seek a license if that is what you want to do.
One aspect of "fair use" as mentioned in the previous answer is whether the proposed use of the team logos would fit the definition of "nominative use" of the trademarks, which would generally be permissible. See our article on that subject in the World Trademark Review at http://tinyurl.com/Elman-Powell-TrademarkArticle (login required by the publisher, free trial available).
This posting is intended for general education and isn't "legal advice." It doesn't create or evidence an attorney-client relationship. You are encouraged to engage an attorney in the pertinent jurisdiction for confidential legal advice on matters of any importance.
I agree that use of the team names would be considered nominative fair use, if used just to describe the teams, and that use of the logos probably would infringe or at least would be considered to infringe by MLB, which is really what matters since you are probably not in a position to duke it out with MLB.
You might want to check similar sites to see if MLB has allowed them to use logos.That would not be a guarantee that you would not be confronted for doing the same, but there must be many MLB-related sites out there that could give you an idea of whether such use would likely be an issue.
In note that the TM notice on www.mlb.com reads as follows:
"The following are trademarks or service marks of Major League Baseball entities and may be used only with permission of Major League Baseball Properties, Inc. or the relevant Major League Baseball entity: Major League, Major League Baseball, MLB, the silhouetted batter logo, World Series, National League, American League, Division Series, League Championship Series, All-Star Game, and the names, nicknames, logos, uniform designs, color combinations, and slogans designating the Major League Baseball clubs and entities, and their respective mascots, events and exhibitions."
This provides an indication that they consider even the names to be restricted in use. They make money from licensing the logos etc. (remember the part about the broadcast itself being copyright and published "accounts" require permission). Thus, I can see that MLB could take a dim view of your proposal in the absence of a license.
I suggest consultation with competent trademark counsel to explore what the options might be. Or there is contact info for licensing at http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/official_info/about_mlb/.
This is not legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is formed through this response in a public forum.
Our Rating is calculated using information the lawyer has included on their profile in addition to the information we collect from state bar associations and other organizations that license legal professionals. Attorneys who claim their profiles and provide Avvo with more information tend to have a higher rating than those who do not.What determines Avvo Rating?Experience & background
Years licensed, work experience, educationLegal community recognition
Peer endorsements, associations, awardsLegal thought leadership
Publications, speaking engagementsDiscipline