Is Selling Cubs Merchandise a Crime?

Stealing bases may be a routine part of baseball, but the Chicago Cubs have made it clear that street vendors stealing merchandise have no part in America’s pastime. On September 22, 2016, Major League Baseball and the Chicago Cubs sued vendors for selling counterfeit merchandise on the streets outside of Wrigley Field.

This has been an uplifting season for the Cubs as they are in first place, standing as the top team in all of Major League Baseball. The club’s claim that vendors are “deliberately free riding” on this success and “trading – without a license or permission – on the substantial goodwill associated with the Cubs’ trademarks and trade dress.” Ultimately, the Cubs allege that money-hungry vendors are using the Cubs’ trademarks and color schemes to create and sell merchandise without permission.

The Cubs, in using their own trademarks and color schemes to sell licensed products, argue that allowing vendors to use these same distinctive features to sell unlicensed products confuses the public. In an effort to prevent further confusion, the Cubs seek a temporary restraining order, as well as a preliminary and permanent injunction to stop the vendors from continuing this unlawful infringement.

The complaint brings claims against seven named defendants and about 30 unnamed vendors. As a result of having numerous unknown parties selling merchandise, MLB and the Cubs request that the court give them and other law enforcement agencies the power to seize all merchandise possessed by defendants.

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