Mets can register logo in England

Updated: January 21, 2004, 4:03 PM ET
Associated Press

LONDON -- The New York Mets picked up an offseason victory, going to Britain to get it.

In a case pitting the Mets against The Met Office -- Britain's meteorological service -- the British Patent Office ruled the major league team may register its logo.

Although baseball has little following in Britain, the weather service contended its trademark might be confused with the Mets logo.

In turning down the weather agency's claim, trademark registrar George Salthouse allowed the Mets to register their trademark for use on items such as trading cards, caps and T-shirts.

"There is no likelihood of misrepresentation," he wrote.

The Met Office is weighing an appeal.

Wayne Elliott, a spokesman for The Met Office, said Major League Baseball Properties -- the licensing arm of the commissioner's office -- has also applied to use the word "Met" and not just "Mets."

"The actual complexity of the case is absolutely enormous. The detail is mind-boggling," Elliott said.

He said the weather service had "no problem with the baseball team's logo," which superimposes the word "Mets" across an outline of the New York skyline.

"We just saw a danger in the UK and Europe of a company coming in and wanting to patent the word 'Met.' So we challenged it."

The weather service says it also competes in the "sports business," supplying weather forecasts to Formula One teams and Wimbledon.

Ethan Orlinsky, the chief lawyer for MLBP, said the case was one of "hundreds or thousands of similar cases."

"We were very surprised that The Met Office had objected to our efforts to try to register the New York Mets trademark," Orlinsky said in a telephone interview. "Our lines of business are quite dissimilar."

Dr. Jeremy Philpott, the Patent Office's spokesman, said the British public was unlikely to be confused between the weather office and a major league baseball team.

"Have you ever gone out shopping intending to buy a Lotus car and come back with Lotus software?" he asked.

London's metropolitan police force is also known as "The Met," not to mention New York's Metropolitan Opera.

"Is there any confusion between the police force which controls London, and the Met, which does opera and orchestral works?" Philpott added.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press