The Overwatch League took a big step towards being an actual thing last week with the announcement of its first seven teams, two of which are owned by groups who also own traditional sports teams: deep pockets, in other words. But Blizzard may be about to run into some unexpected trouble courtesy of Major League Baseball, which according to the Morrison/Lee lawn firm blog is getting ready to oppose the trademark registration of the Overwatch League logo.
"Once trademarks are approved, they’re published in the Official Gazette. This is essentially a weekly newsletter by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Upon publication, other parties who believe they may be harmed by the impending registration of the mark have 30 days to file one of two things with the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board ('TTAB'): an opposition to the trademark or a request for more time to file that opposition," the post explains.
"Following publication of the League’s logo on March 28, Major League Baseball took issue with the likeness of the logo to its own. Just one day before the 30 day deadline, MLB requested an extension of time to oppose the logo, stating that it needed an additional 90 days to investigate the claim and to confer with counsel."
That request for an extension was granted the same day, a noteworthy fact because, according to the blog, "we usually see things move slowly at the Trademark Office."
The logos obviously bear some similarities in the juxtaposition of contrasting (although different) colors and Tracer's pose, which puts her at an angle not too far from that of the bat in the MLB logo. But is anyone really likely to confuse them? And perhaps more to the point, why is the Overwatch logo a problem, while that of MLG—which uses a nearly identical color scheme and is literally one letter off of MLB—is not?
The exact nature of the opposition isn't known—the deadline for filing is July 26—and so it's impossible to guess at how likely it is to succeed, or what Blizzard's response will be. But I think it's worth nothing that the OWL is hardly the only sports league logo that bears a resemblance to that of MLB, and not nearly as similar as many others. Make of it what you will.