Major League Baseball wants a Brooklyn burger business called out for stealing.
The league has complained to federal patent authorities that the blue script “Brooklyn” logo of Sunset Park-based Brooklyn Burger is so similar to the trademarked Brooklyn Dodger logo that consumers might think that the burgers are affiliated with the baseball team that abandoned the borough 52 years ago.
“We’re furious,” said Buxbaum, co-owner of Brooklyn Burger. “Major League Baseball is telling us that we can’t use our logo because a team that’s not even in Brooklyn anymore has the rights to it.”
Buxbaum applied to trademark his company’s logo in April, setting into motion the Major League Baseball effort to defend the Los Angeles Dodgers’ trademark over the “Brooklyn” script for products and merchandising linked to the glory days of Jackie, Pee Wee and the Duke.
But Buxbaum’s lawyer says that the Dodgers’ trademark only applies to apparel and novelty items — not to food.
“No one is going to think the Dodgers are selling burgers because of the Brooklyn Burger company’s logo,” said the lawyer, Robert Maldonado. “Brooklyn Burger has a right to trademark its logo.”
The move by Major League Baseball to protect the Dodgers’ trademark might be pre-emptive. The six-year-old Brooklyn Burger company has sold patties at Yankee, Met, Giant, Jet, Islander and Brooklyn Cyclone games, so further expansion in the stadium food industry could lead to confusion. After all, the Dodgers already sell “Dodger Dogs” at Chavez Ravine, so perhaps someday the team might want to sell its own “Brooklyn Burgers.”
“We are obligated by law to protect our trademarks or we are at risk of losing them,” the league said in a statement.
That was a similar argument that the Dodgers made in the early 1990s, when the team sued the owners of the Brooklyn Dodger bar in Bay Ridge, claiming that customers might think that the team had opened a tavern.
The judge in the case famously ruled in favor of the bar — wisely concluding that no Brooklyn boozehound would be fooled into thinking that a team as hated as the Los Angeles Dodgers would actually be running a bar in the abandoned borough.
Since then, the Dodgers and Major League Baseball have not gone after other Brooklyn companies and institutions that evoke Dem Bums’ logo. Landi’s Pork Store on Avenue N in the Flatlands uses the “Brooklyn” font (albeit in red) on its T-shirts and website. So do the Brooklyn Cyclones and Borough President Markowitz, whose website, newsletter, and souvenir pins all sport the “Brooklyn” cursive.
And you know where Markowitz’s loyalties are.
“The Los Angeles Dodgers have nothing to do with Brooklyn.” Markowitz said. “The Dodgers left Brooklyn in 1958 and have played in California longer than they played in Brooklyn. I am in full support of Brooklyn Burger in this case.”