Rawlings Sues to Stop New Easton Baseball Bat Before Rules Change

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By Tony Dutra

Rawlings Sporting Goods Co. filed a lawsuit Aug. 15 to stop competitor Easton Diamond Sports LLC from introducing a baseball bat model popular in youth leagues and compliant with new standards ( Rawling Sporting Gds. Co. v. Easton Diamond Sports, LLC , E.D. Mo., No. 4:17-cv-02259, complaint filed 8/15/17 ).

Rawlings argued that the well-known trademark on its aluminum alloy 5150 bat will be infringed if Easton is allowed to introduce a “confusingly similar” bat marked as the “S150” model on Sept. 1, 2017.

USA Baseball, the governing body for amateur baseball, issued new regulations for bats to be used in games conducted by Little League Baseball, Babe Ruth Baseball, and other youth leagues. The rules will take effect Jan. 1, 2018, and bat makers can release compliant bats in September. The new safety standards are an attempt to make aluminum bats used in the game perform more like wooden bats.

Rawlings said in its complaint that its 5150 bats have a reputation for high quality and high performance, while Easton’s S150 bat is intended as a “low-end” cheap alternative.

Rawlings asserted both federal and state trademark infringement and unfair competition claims. The complaint asked the court to expedite a hearing on a temporary restraining order to stop Easton from introducing its S150 bat.

Rawlings founded in 1887 and based in St. Louis, Mo., has been selling baseball equipment to the major leagues for over 100 years, according to the company website. Easton, based in Thousand Oaks, Calif., introduced “the first true aluminum bat” in 1972, according to the company’s website.

Husch Blackwell LLP filed the complaint on behalf of Rawlings, which is also represented by Meunier Carlin & Curfman LLC.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tony Dutra in Washington at adutra@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mike Wilczek at mwilczek@bna.com

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