Indians Pitcher Claims IP Infringement Against Louisiana Baseball Training Program

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On June 4, 2018, Cleveland Indians pitcher Trevor Bauer commenced a lawsuit against a Louisiana-based baseball training program, claiming that it misappropriated his name, identity, likeness, and other interests protected under intellectual property laws. Bauer contends that the program, Top Velocity, LLC, had used his persona on its website and across its various social media accounts for its own commercial gain, leading the public to believe that Bauer and Top Velocity were associated.

Bauer’s complaint asserts a total of 21 causes of action, including Lanham Act claims under federal law, unfair trade practices under Louisiana state law, right of privacy and publicity violations under Texas state law, and various claims under common law, among others. It provides that Bauer is “world renowned” for his high velocity pitching skills and “has or will be retained to promote and provide endorsements for exclusive and selected entities and manufacturers for which Bauer does or may receive compensation.” Presumably, Bauer perceived that Top Velocity was inappropriately linking its name to Bauer’s known pitching talents. The complaint describes Top Velocity as a Louisiana business that “market[s] and sell[s] baseball programs, training and facilities designed to enhance an individual’s baseball pitching performance and speed.” It also notes that the program provides online camps and physical facilities for training purposes.

According to the complaint, Bauer’s attorney sent a letter to Top Velocity owner, Brent Pourciau, in March 2018, demanding that the company stop using Bauer’s name, images, likeness, and all other intellectual and business property. Bauer claims that counsel for Top Velocity failed to respond to the letter until a month later, when he apparently agreed to remove all images and likenesses of Bauer from his website and social media platforms. Bauer further claims that when confirmation via an affidavit was requested from Top Velocity’s counsel, it went unreceived.

As a result, Bauer is alleging that Top Velocity deprived him of his ability to “negotiate representation of and/or endorsements with other entities, thereby depriving him of his established earning potential and . . . right of publicity.” He is seeking injunctive relief, as well as monetary relief to include attorneys’ fees, punitives, general damages, and a slew of other damage varieties, the amount of which was undisclosed.

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