SBD/February 28, 2014/Marketing and Sponsorship

Blue Jays' Reversion To Old Logo, Color Scheme Leads To Surge In Knockoff Merch

One T-shirt shows Colby Rasmus surrounded by bald eagles and fighter jets
The Blue Jays' decision to revert to an old logo and color scheme has had the "unintended consequence" of causing a "surge of unofficial, fan-created, tribute T-shirts, which -- in many cases -- are far more interesting than what’s on offer at the team’s official store," according to Brendan Kennedy of the TORONTO STAR. Examples include CF Colby Rasmus "surrounded by bald eagles and F16 fighter jets; an homage to [SS] Munenori Kawasaki and his ceremonial bow; a celebration of [1B] Edwin Encarnacion’s one-wing-up home run trot." All of the shirts "can be found online." One of the "most popular black-market shirts uses the team’s initials to reference a sex act." The "aforementioned fan-designed shirts don’t depict any official logos," but they are still illegal. Toronto-based trademark attorney Julie MacDonell "lists the infringements: the Jays’ vintage font, the colours, even the abbreviated team name are all registered trademarks." She added, "Design elements extracted from logos is still infringement." Blue Jays Senior VP/Business Operations Stephen Brooks said that the organization "doesn’t have someone proactively searching for counterfeit or unofficial merchandise, but as it comes to their attention," the club works with MLB to address it. Brooks said that in terms of small-scale, fan-designed shirts, the Blue Jays "look at it on a case-by-case basis." Brooks: "There’s a difference between someone doing things for commercial gain and fans doing things out of love for the team and general enthusiasm for the team. I think you do have to evaluate each situation on its own merits." In regard to the "popular 'I Love BJs' shirts, Brooks did not discuss specifics, but suggested it would garner more of the team’s attention than other designs" (TORONTO STAR, 2/28).
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