Yankees Admit that they are “Baseball’s Evil Empire”

Fans of rival teams, especially Red Sox fans, have long known that the New York Yankees are the Evil Empire, as well as major recipients of corporate welfare. But in a recent legal proceeding, the team has now officially admitted it [HT: Josh Blackman]:

A panel of trademark judges in Washington, D.C., earlier this month denied a request from a private entrepreneur, known as Evil Enterprises, Inc., to register the trademark for the phrase “Baseballs Evil Empire.”

Evil Enterprises wanted the exclusive right to market merchandise using that phrase, which was coined in regard to the Yankees by Larry Lucchino, the president and chief executive of the Boston Red Sox, back in 2002….

Evil Enterprises initially applied for a trademark back in July of 2008.

But the Yankees objected, arguing that they had the rights to the phrase—at least when used in connection with baseball.

Part of the Yankees’ argument: a concession that in the baseball world, they are, in fact, the “Evil Empire.” In its legal papers, the team referenced a number of articles from the past decade using the term in connection with the Yankees, and conceded that the team has “implicitly embraced” the “Evil Empire” theme by playing music from Star Wars during their home games.

Not only did the Yankees admit that they are an evil empire, but we now have a legally binding judicial ruling to that effect:

The panel of judges sided with the Yankees, ruling that the Yankees are strongly associated with the phrase. Allowing anyone else to use the phrase exclusively would likely cause confusion, ruled the judges.

“In short, the record shows that there is only one Evil Empire in baseball and it is the New York Yankees,” wrote the judges. “Accordingly, we find that [the Yankees] have a protectable trademark right in the term . . . as used in connection with baseball.”

Evil Enterprises is considering whether to appeal the decision. In the meantime, however, the Yankees have now officially admitted that they are the Evil Empire. Perhaps they will soon collapse, following in the footsteps of previous evil empires, such as the Galactic Empire of Star Wars and the Soviet Union.

UPDATE: I have not been able to find an online copy of the court’s decision. If anyone else does, please e-mail me a link.

UPDATE #2: The opinion of the Patent and Trademark Office Trademark Trial and Appeal Board is available here [HT: commenter Adam B]. Interestingly, the court also rejected the Yankees’ argument that allowing Evil Enterprises to use the term “Evil Empire” would be “disparaging” to the Yankees, because the Yankees have “succumbed to the lure of the dark side”:

The Smith declaration admits that opposer [the Yankees] has “implicitly embraced” the EVIL EMPIRE designation.
For example, opposer has played the ominous theme from the STAR WARS movies at baseball games. Opposer’s embracing the EVIL EMPIRE characterization, whether explicitly or implicitly, undermines its argument that use of BASEBALLS EVIL EMPIRE disparages the Yankees. In other words, having succumbed to the lure of the dark side, opposer will not now be heard to complain about the judgment of those who prefer the comfort of the light. We find that use of the term BASEBALLS EVIL EMPIRE is not disparaging to opposer.