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Maryland Stadium Authority v. Becker

806 F. Supp. 1236 (1992)

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Maryland Stadium Authority v. Becker

United States District Court for the District of Maryland

806 F. Supp. 1236 (1992)

Facts

In 1987, the Maryland Stadium Authority (MSA) (plaintiff) decided to build a new baseball stadium for the Baltimore Orioles at a site known as Camden Yards. The MSA did not officially name the stadium until October 1991, when it decided to call it Oriole Park at Camden Yards. However, between November 1988 and the official naming, the MSA regularly used Camden Yards to refer to the new stadium in publicly distributed material like brochures and newsletters, and the MSA hosted numerous promotional events for the stadium that referred to Camden Yards. In July 1991, Roy G. Becker (defendant), operating under the business name Camden Yards Stadium, began selling merchandise that said, “Camden Yards means baseball” and included baseball-related elements like crossed baseball bats and a baseball diamond. In August 1991, the MSA demanded Becker cease using Camden Yards on his merchandise. After Becker did not respond, the MSA brought suit in federal district court, charging Becker with engaging in unfair competition in violation of § 43(a) of the Lanham Act and Maryland common law by infringing on its unregistered trademark in Camden Yards. Becker argued that the MSA did not hold trademark rights in Camden Yards in July 1991, when he started selling his merchandise, because the MSA had not yet sold any goods with the Camden Yards mark. The MSA responded that its pre-July 1991 advertising and promotional activities created trademark rights in Camden Yards. The parties cross-moved for summary judgment.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Motz, J.)

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