One of the thrills of following baseball in the modern day is the ability to follow your team’s every move, day in and day out, through a variety of media. But for a number of fans, their options have just decreased by one. Major League Baseball Advanced Media (MLBAM) has requested that iTunes remove a number of baseball-related podcasts from iTunes, a request which was fulfilled with all the speed and vigor of a Yasiel Puig bat flip. MLBAM cited trademark infringement as the reason for the move in the letter it sent to Apple, which has subsequently been published by NBC Sports’ Hardball Talk:
“As we have done in the past, yesterday we notified Apple about certain podcasts on the iTunes Store whose titles and/or thumbnails include infringing uses of trademarks of Major League Baseball and certain Clubs. And, as we have done in the past, we asked Apple to have these trademarks removed from the podcast titles and thumbnails. Although we did not ask for or seek to have any podcast removed from the Store, it has come to our attention that Apple removed them. Given our many years of experience in notifying Apple about trademark issues on the Store, we trust that removing the podcasts was an oversight, and ask that you please look into this matter as soon as possible.
Thank you for your cooperation.”
Among the offending titles are Twins podcasts “Gleeman and the Geek” and “Talk to Contact,” Pirates podcast “Pirates Prospects,” Mets podcast “Mets Musings,” Rangers podcast “Rangers Report in Arlington,” and several others. What makes the matter confusing and rather arbitrary is the fact that there remain numerous team-related and fan-produced podcasts still readily available in the iTunes store, none of which would seem to have any more legal right to trademark usage than the podcasts that were initially removed.
It is worth noting that MLB did not take the step of sending a letter or other communication to these podcasts notifying them of the infringement before going to Apple, a seemingly heavy-handed move from a business that frequently bemoans its loss of fans. And given the time and effort necessary to devote oneself not only to following one’s favorite team through the lengthy baseball season but to recording a podcast devoted to that team, MLB would seem to be pursuing action against its most fervent fans and customers. While perhaps undertaken with the best of intentions in protecting its brand, it would seem to be another move that will ultimately alienate fans from a sport that is a master in that arena.
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