A battle of bats took place in the Eastern District of Missouri featuring two of the biggest makers of baseball bats in the industry. Rawlings Sporting Goods Company sued Easton Diamond Sports alleging that Easton was infringing Rawlings 5150 model bats with an S150 model it was rolling out for 2018.
A day before Easton’s release of its bats, the Court denied a Temporary Restraining Order filed by Rawlings to halt the rollout of the S150 models.
Rawlings claimed that the S150 designation would likely cause confusion with the 5150 model. In its opinion, the Court held there to be little likelihood of confusion between the two models. Notably, the Court indicated that both brands used the name in addition to the model designations. Also, in its marketing and point of sale materials, both used the “Rawlings” or “Easton” name to avoid any confusion with other brands. Thus, the “sub-marks” on the baseball bats take on a “subservient role to the house brand.”
The Court also conducted a visual analysis of the marks and the “S”150 was not deemed confusing to the 5150 model. It also did not believe an “untoward purpose” in the use of the S150 mark since other models used by Easton included an “S” before the model. Thus, there was no belief of an intent to cause confusion.
In its order, the Court noted that Easton’s S150 was meant to be a “low-end” model while Rawlings’ 5150 was a “high-end” bat.
The ruling by the Court on the TRO does not mean that the lawsuit is over but Rawlings swung and missed at its first opportunity to halt its rival from selling its new models.