Skip to content

The Red Sox could be sued over “B-Strong”

Mar 14, 2014, 8:37 AM EDT

Screen Shot 2014-03-14 at 8.35.09 AM

This hit the news two weeks ago, but I missed it because I was derping around Florida. It appears that no resolution has been announced yet, however, so it’s still an operative controversy, as we in the controversy business say.

A Texas-based foundation — The Braden Aboud Memorial Foundationhas been in negotiations with the Boston Red Sox over the latter’s use of the “B-Strong” logo and slogan. The foundation, named after 14-year-old Braden Aboud, who died in a skiing accident — trademarked “B-Strong” for its charitable efforts in 2007. According to Aboud’s father, who runs the foundation, the Aboud foundation’s trademark is getting confused with and potentially overtaken by Red Sox-related “B-Strong” imagery in Google searches and the like. Which is kind of a big problem when you have a trademark for a similarly-purposed undertaking. Here, charitable efforts.

Also a problem: the Sox, while diverting a portion of “B-Strong” merchandise revenues to charity, do keep a portion of it and profit off “B-Strong” merchandise. That doesn’t sit well with Aboud. The Aboud Foundation is 100% non-profit. A cease and desist letter was sent to the Red Sox in May. Since then the sides have been negotiating about it, but it may very well wind up in court.

It’s a really unfortunate situation, as both uses of “B-Strong” are rooted in tragedy and philanthropy. Here’s hoping some sort of amicable resolution can be reached.

  1. proudlycanadian - Mar 14, 2014 at 8:54 AM

    Thanks for this story Craig; however, I want to interrupt your thread to remind people that today (3.14) is Pi Day. Thus I want to salute Lemon Meringue, Key Lime, Pecan, and Banana Cream. I must also note that my friend dirtyharry1971 is fond of mud pies, cow pies as well as cream puffs.

    As far as the above story is concerned, both sides should just get together and have a group hug.

    • chill1184 - Mar 14, 2014 at 9:29 AM

      I like Custard pie

      • sophiethegreatdane - Mar 14, 2014 at 9:49 AM

        I don’t mean to Ramble On here, but I’m Going to California, and I’d sure like a piece of your Custard Pie. Through Good Times and Bad Times, the Song Remains the Same, and All My Love has stayed with Custard Pie.

      • Old Gator - Mar 14, 2014 at 11:08 AM

        π !

    • grumpyoleman - Mar 14, 2014 at 10:27 AM

      Clemente2 could probably tell you what kind of coffee goes best with pie since he appears to be an expert on the subject.

    • dlf9 - Mar 14, 2014 at 10:35 AM

      This year is just a prelude to the real Pi day next year 3.14.15 … now if only I could make it another 144 years to 3.14.159.

    • stlouis1baseball - Mar 14, 2014 at 12:54 PM

      All I have to add is…
      Pie trumps Cake. Always.

    • mikhelb - Mar 14, 2014 at 1:56 PM

      Pi (or ¶) is pronounced as “pee”, not as “pie”. It has never been pronounced “pie”.

      • proudlycanadian - Mar 14, 2014 at 6:57 PM

        This is a family site. There is no place for toilet humor.

  2. deathmonkey41 - Mar 14, 2014 at 9:06 AM

    Big Papi wants to know how something like this can happen to him?!?!?!?

    • alexo0 - Mar 14, 2014 at 9:11 AM

      That is his f*&^ing slogan!

      • 1bigmouth2another - Mar 15, 2014 at 12:42 AM

        why they would use a filthy arse pigeon is the real question here

  3. ez4u2sa - Mar 14, 2014 at 9:29 AM

    Give me a break. It’s been almost a year since Boston starting using this slogan. Leave well enough alone.

    • Craig Calcaterra - Mar 14, 2014 at 9:39 AM

      They contacted Boston less than a month after they started using it and issued a cease and desist letter. Since then they’ve been (quietly) negotiating.

    • asimonetti88 - Mar 14, 2014 at 10:43 AM

      And it’s apparently been almost 7 years since the other foundation started using it.

    • ez4u2sa - Mar 14, 2014 at 11:12 AM

      Was unaware that a cease and order was issued. In that case, I stand corrected and shame on Boston!

      • alangyo - Mar 14, 2014 at 11:29 AM

        then read the article or the blog post.

  4. pgilbert2013 - Mar 14, 2014 at 9:43 AM

    As a Red Sox fan and a business owner. I am horrified that legal did not research the logo. It’s identical.

    I think a nice donation to the fund and maybe a different bird is the way to go.

    • Craig Calcaterra - Mar 14, 2014 at 9:48 AM

      The bird is from the Aboud foundation. The Sox don’t use that. It’s just the words “B-Strong”

      • Old Gator - Mar 14, 2014 at 11:06 AM

        Uh, how about “Be Strong,” Beanbags, or is that too complicated for you?

        Anyway, Henry could order it superimposed over the silhouette of a pelican.

      • kalinedrive - Mar 14, 2014 at 12:25 PM

        The Sox could just change it to “B Proud” or “B Tough” or “B Tenacious” or “B Steady” or “B Hearty” or something. Use a thesaurus.

    • mikhelb - Mar 14, 2014 at 2:01 PM

      Coming from John Henry you can bet he didn’t desist because he saw an opportunity to sell more merchandise when the story about the “cease and desist” would come to light. He has been known to make anything to make merchandise.

      At some point he sold the “we are idiots” meme in 2004 because he saw an opportunity to make money knowing well that the redsox fans are not too bright and will buy anything when their team is winning (case in point: after they failed to reach playoffs the team saw a drop in merchandise). More recently last year he saw an opportunity with the beards and he quickly began to sell the idea on TV that they were the first to sport beards like the A’s did before them.

  5. bigdaddy44 - Mar 14, 2014 at 9:55 AM

    It doesn’t surprise me that the Red Sox are keeping some profit from a charitable endeavor. Their charitable efforts are as much about branding and marketing as they are about charity. They attempt to link their fundraising and the Red Sox brand in people’s minds as a long term effort to sell their product. All you have to do is look around Fenway and see how it is a combination three ring circus and Vegas experience designed to suck every dollar possible out of patrons’ wallets. They even partner with one ticket agency so fans can resell their tickets, and the Sox get kickbacks on the profits. It amounts to the Red Sox scalping their own seats. All this marketing is not done so they can spend enough to keep the baseball operation competitive, they spend enough money to keep the team competitive so the profits keep rolling in on everything else. Baseball is just a tool for Lucchino and his gang. Look for the Sox to settle this lawsuit by making a large donation this foundation, but on such a public stage as to pat themselves on the back. It will just be turned into another chance to further their brand.

    • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Mar 14, 2014 at 12:28 PM

      Unfortunately, what you describe is every successful business in this country.

  6. belichickrulz - Mar 14, 2014 at 9:58 AM

    The Red Sox should do two things to make this right. First, agree from this point on to turn 100% of the profits of their B-Strong merchandise over to charity. Second, agree to provide a link to The Braden Aboud Memorial Foundation on the Red Sox web site and mention it whenever they mention B-Strong. That would drive traffic to the Aboud Foundation and help them raise more money. There should be room in this world for two B-Strong logos to support charities.

  7. pastabelly - Mar 14, 2014 at 10:03 AM

    I would rather see the Red Sox send all proceeds of their use of B Strong the One Fund. https://secure.onefundboston.org/index.php/content/ which is the Non Profit which was set up to benefit surivors and families of the victims of the terrorist incident at last year’s Boston Marathon. It doesn’t seem right that this Texas foundation should be benefiting in this shake down, no matter how noble their chartiable purpose is. Also, the phrase ____ Strong was probably taken from Lance Armstrong’s Livestrong foundation. As for the Red Sox, they are probably one of the most charitable organizations in sports. I have no problem with the way they do business.

    • rpb1234 - Mar 14, 2014 at 10:48 AM

      WHen the RedSox created the foundation and discovered via Tradeamark search (or google) that the slogan was trademarked they should have selected something else…

      “It doesn’t seem right that this Redsox foundation should be benefiting in this infringement, no matter how noble their charitable purpose is”

    • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Mar 14, 2014 at 12:32 PM

      The Red Sox stole the logo of a charity and probably diverted many dollars that might have gone to that charity. The Red Sox have plenty of lawyers, so it is difficult to imagine that this was an innocent mistake. It has certainly lost any claim of innocence over the 6 months since the situation was brought to their attention.

  8. pastabelly - Mar 14, 2014 at 10:21 AM

    http://boston.cbslocal.com/2014/02/28/report-red-sox-may-be-sued-by-charitable-foundation-over-use-of-b-strong-logo/

    You hear more of the Red Sox side of the case in the video in this link. The Red Sox are saying that they are using Red Sox Logo B (very recognizable and distinct) and Strong and not generic B Strong and that there is a difference and that nobody would confuse the two. This is an uphill battle for this El Paso family. Aboud has gained more visibility for his cause in suing the Red Sox than he probably he has in the seven years his foundation has been around. He’s a sharp guy.

    • Craig Calcaterra - Mar 14, 2014 at 11:40 AM

      Legally speaking that distinction — the Red Sox logo being used — would never, ever fly. Could they sell an album of Red Sox players singing, calling themselves the “Beatles” with a cute Boston B as the first letter? Hardly.

      Both are plays on the phrase “Be Strong” with the B standing for something else (Boston/Brandon). As they are both charitable efforts in part, and as searches and attempts to make donations to them will inevitably lead to confusion here, with someone trying to donate to one likely to donate to the other, this is a serious problem.

  9. 18thstreet - Mar 14, 2014 at 10:42 AM

    I wish there this website provided a way to give a thumbs up to the original post (in this case, Craig’s).

  10. lukedunphysscienceproject - Mar 14, 2014 at 11:15 AM

    I think it’s disgusting that the Sox are keeping any portion of the B-Strong money as profit. Do they clearly advertise this on whatever site they are hawking the merchandise on? And I am not just picking on the Sox. A pox on any team that is keeping a portion of the money raised by its charities.

    • Reflex - Mar 14, 2014 at 3:19 PM

      That was my first impression as well. They are raking in cash from a bombing? Really?

  11. jaturso - Mar 14, 2014 at 11:15 AM

    The Red Sox could have, upon discovering the potential trademark/copyright infringment, just gone with “Boston Strong”, with their trademark “B”, and achieved the same result, rather than have to go through this.

    I feel like this might be John Henry et. al just deciding that they’re the bigger of the two dogs in this fight, and the other guy will just roll over. Good for the original copyright/trademark holder for fighting for his rights.

    I hope the resolution is that the Red Sox, voluntarily, surrender all profits from THEIR B-Strong merchandise (pieces of which my wife and I both have and wear regularly) to the original rights holder, and all future profits get evenly split between the two foundations. I think that’s probably an equitable solution.

    But I’m just some guy. What the hell do I know?

    • krispc - Mar 14, 2014 at 12:30 PM

      The Red Sox should change period. Victoria Secrets sued in court a small company in Maine I believe becuase they opened up a lingerie shop called Victors Little Secret and Victoria Secrets WON. This is WAY more confusing than that.

  12. jaturso - Mar 14, 2014 at 11:34 AM

    Craig, did you see this?

    https://www.usmint.gov/batterup/?action=curvedcoin

  13. goodellisruiningtheleague - Mar 14, 2014 at 1:36 PM

    jaturso – Mar 14, 2014 at 11:15 AM
    The Red Sox could have, upon discovering the potential trademark/copyright infringment, just gone with “Boston Strong”, with their trademark “B”, and achieved the same result, rather than have to go through this.

    I feel like this might be John Henry et. al just deciding that they’re the bigger of the two dogs in this fight, and the other guy will just roll over. Good for the original copyright/trademark holder for fighting for his rights.
    ——————————————————————————————————————————

    fighting for his rights, to paaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrttttttttttttttttttttttttttttyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy?

  14. mikhelb - Mar 14, 2014 at 1:53 PM

    “Derping”? really? for a guy who wets his underpants for every non-PC baseball logo that seems utterly offensive, specially for those who have persons with different capacities in their lives.

  15. righthandofjustice - Mar 14, 2014 at 1:59 PM

    “Also a problem: the Sox, while diverting a portion of “B-Strong” merchandise revenues to charity, do keep a portion of it and profit off “B-Strong” merchandise. That doesn’t sit well with Aboud.”

    I don’t think that sits well with the FTC neither.

    Somebody correct me if I am wrong but I don’t think the Red Sox have any public statements on where the proceeds from the “B-Strong” merchandise revenues actually go. That is, how much, if any, of the proceeds goes to what charity (again, if any) other than the team’s bank account.

    I have donated money to charities but I would certainly be viewed as a scammer if I exploited the logo of a charity such as the Red Cross while not telling anybody how buying my products associated with the stolen logo actually benefits the Red Cross. Bear in mind, not only me, but you, Adolf Hitler, Saddam Hussein and Al Capone have probably donated to charities, but none of us can call ourselves charities or try to create ambiguity through the logo of a charity for our own profits.

    • Reflex - Mar 14, 2014 at 3:18 PM

      I tried to find the Red Sox B-Strong information on CharityNavigator but could not, I have no idea where the money goes or how much they are actually donating.

  16. tved12 - Mar 14, 2014 at 4:14 PM

    Craig, I must say I rarely comment on them because I don’t have anything nice to say about the PED articles you typically write. That said, you’ve won a fan with this one. Not only with your article but with your responses to some of the users comments on here. Kudos.

    I’m not against a company getting it’s brand out there on a charity, that’s fine, that’s why companies/corporations typically donate. That said, the fact that Boston is profiting off of this merchandise is disgusting. Furthermore, the fact that they knew they were stealing another companies trademark and continued to profit is even more sick.

    This reminds me of trademark bullying, where large corporations sue smaller companies for a name that’s “similar” to theirs, knowing that the small company can’t afford the court fees. Only the Red Sox organization is doing it the other way around, knowing a small organization doesn’t have the money to sue them and win. Hopefully the real B Strong rakes them over the coals for all the profit they’ve taken in.

    • tved12 - Mar 14, 2014 at 4:14 PM

      I meant to say I rarely comment on your articles*

    • kalinedrive - Mar 14, 2014 at 4:44 PM

      Buster Block’s Block Bustin’ Pizza and Subs doesn’t seem to be something one would easily confuse with a video store, but a video store made them change their name.

  17. ajonesmc931 - Mar 15, 2014 at 1:09 AM

    Pastabelly I would agree unfortunately they infringed on another charity. So all the proceeds should go to that one. Regardless of what happened in Boston. Rules is rules. Maybe they could work out a deal otherwise and do a 50/50 split.

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

Featured video

Patience finally paying off for Royals fans
Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. R. Castillo (3160)
  2. G. Stanton (2303)
  3. C. Kershaw (2231)
  4. D. Ortiz (2208)
  5. N. Arenado (2185)
  1. J. Hamilton (2160)
  2. A. Rizzo (2139)
  3. M. Trout (2049)
  4. A. Pujols (1849)
  5. H. Ryu (1773)