Dick’s Sporting Items sues Baseball Reference over GameChanger trademark infringement


A subsidiary of Dick’s Sporting Goods is suing the company that operates the popular Baseball Reference website for trademark infringement.

GameChanger, owned by Dick’s, is a youth baseball and softball software application. The app offers statistics tracking as well as the ability to live stream games.

According to the lawsuit filed Tuesday in Pittsburgh District Court, the defendant’s website, Baseball Reference, created an app called “Game Changer” to view baseball in August.

The lawsuit alleges that the Baseball Reference app is likely to create “consumer confusion” between the two programs.

Sports Reference’s parent company is based in Philadelphia. Baseball Reference provides statistics on players and teams in both Major League Baseball and the college level.

A message left with Sports Reference was not returned immediately.

GameChanger with employees in Coraopolis, where Dick’s is headquartered, was acquired by the company in 2016.

According to the complaint, the app offers scorekeeping tools, advanced statistics, and the ability to provide play-by-play streaming video so that people who are unable to attend the games can watch online.

Since GameChanger’s release in 2010, the lawsuit has been downloaded millions of times and has an average of 3 million users per year – including more than 400,000 youth baseball and softball teams.

The GameChanger app had sales of more than $ 90 million and received more than 600,000 reviews on the Apple App Store, according to the complaint.

Because of its popularity and widespread marketing, the GameChanger brand has “achieved such widespread public notoriety and recognition that it is of great importance and notoriety to both US and Pennsylvania consumers”, according to legal proceedings.

However, according to the lawsuit, Baseball Reference’s Game Changer app is in beta testing on its website.

It is intended to allow users to customize the procedure [they] Watch baseball by prioritizing the content that [they] want to watch, ” said the lawsuit.

On September 18, the lawsuit said, GameChanger’s attorneys sent Sports Reference a cease and desist letter urging them to immediately stop using the Game Changer name.

“Since the Infringing Game Changer App is still in the beta test phase, the plaintiff was of the opinion that it would not be a nuisance for the defendant to choose a new name,” says the complaint.

However, eleven days later, the defendant’s attorney replied that the company would not stop using the name.

Michael Madison, a law professor specializing in trademark law at the University of Pittsburgh, called it a “garden variety trademark conflict”.

“Game Changer sounds rather ordinary – also in a sporting context,” he said. “But if the term has been used to distinguish Dick’s service from others, there is a plausible trademark.”

GameChanger registered the trademark in April 2009, according to the US Patent and Trademark Office. It was registered in June 2010.

Paula Reed Ward is a contributor to Tribune Review. You can contact Paula by email at [email protected] or on Twitter.

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