Who Owns the Color "Gold"? Fielding the Case of Rawlings Sporting Goods Company vs. Wilson Sporting Goods Company
AbstractThe legal issues addressed in this case are based upon a lawsuit filed in 2012 by Rawlings Sporting Goods Company against Wilson Sporting Goods Company. The lawsuit was initiated after Wilson provided a baseball glove with metallic gold-colored webbing and stitching to a Major League Baseball player who had won a 2011 Rawlings Gold Glove Award but was an endorser of Wilson rather than Rawlings. Although the case was eventually settled on confidential terms, the lawsuit provided a number of intriguing trademark law issues that are examined here. One of the key legal issues revolves around the concept of trade dress, and specifically the basis on which a single color can be deemed protectable as a trademark. After examining the legal history of various colors as trademarks, the authors then introduce the concepts of functionality and secondary meaning to provide a context in which readers can analyze the merits of Rawlings’ legal claim with respect to its “ownership” of the color gold within the baseball glove industry.