In St. Louis, Missouri, Rawlings Sporting Goods has filed a federal lawsuit against competitor Wilson Sporting Goods for displaying a baseball glove with gold-colored webbing and stitching in its promotional materials. Rawlings alleges the product violates its Gold Glove Award trademarks.
Wilson's 2012 promotional materials had shown Brandon Phillips, a second baseman with the Cincinnati Reds, holding a Wilson-brand baseball glove with metallic gold-colored webbing, stitching and lettering, according to Rawlings' Complaint.
After Phillips won a Gold Glove Award in 2011, Rawlings alleges Wilson supplied the Major League Baseball player with a glove made by Wilson with gold coloring that Rawlings alleges violates its trademarks.
Eighteen Gold Gloves are awarded each year (with the exception of 1957, 1985 and 2007), one at each of the nine positions in each league.
Rawlings claims that it owns the trademarks for the words "Gold Glove Award" and for the distinctive gold-colored baseball glove that is the centerpiece of the award.
In addition to the award, Rawlings supplies winners with baseball gloves with metallic gold distinguishing marks. Since 1957, the Complaint notes that Rawlings has distributed 981 Gold Glove Awards.
"(Wilson's) unauthorized use of the Gold Glove Marks dilutes and is likely to dilute the distinctiveness of these marks by eroding the public's exclusive associations and reputation of the marks, and otherwise lessening the capacity of the marks to identify and distinguish Rawlings' good and services," Rawlings' Complaint alleges.
It is not clear if Wilson sold any of the allegedly infringing gloves in commerce, but its use of a copycat gold glove as a promotional item may be sufficient to violate the Lanham Act if the Court finds that such use was likely to cause confusion and/or dilute the famous Gold Glove Marks.