The Atlanta Braves are asking a federal judge to call a local cab company “out” over its use of the team’s name, trademarked emblems and famous tomahawk logo without permission.
A lawsuit filed Thursday in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia said the Acworth-based “Braves Taxi” company is operating “virtually in the shadow of SunTrust Park” as it piggybacks on decades of goodwill toward the local team despite having no licensing agreement.
Braves Taxi and its owner, Hector Tirado, “are intentionally freeriding on the success and popularity of the Atlanta Braves by brazenly copying the Atlanta Braves’ trademarks and trade dress, in an effort to dupe unwitting fans or other Atlantans into believing defendants’ taxi company is owned by, associated or affiliated with, or sponsored or endorsed by the Atlanta Braves,” said the complaint, filed by Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton partner R. Charles Henn Jr. and associates Jennifer Deal and Kenesia Cook.
According to the suit, Braves Taxi has refused to stop using the Braves’ trademarks even after being notified that they were in violation of the law, and instead “repeatedly tried to gain financially from their infringement by demanding payment of exorbitant sums” to remove them.
The complaint includes a claim for violation of federal cyberpiracy law, asserting that the taxi company’s Web address—www.BravesTaxi.com—“includes an identical and confusingly similar version of the Braves mark.”
Henn said he did not have permission to discuss the case, and a spokesman for Major League Baseball declined to comment.
The number of the cab company’s elaborate website—also replete with Braves imagery—rang unanswered Friday, and there was no immediate response to an email sent to the company.
The complaint includes photographs of official “Braves Around Town” vehicles, whose decorations include a “BAT” logo, alongside photos of Braves Taxi vehicles, which are also emblazoned with the BAT emblem and bear a strong resemblance to the Braves vehicles.
The complaint notes that, among its myriad marketing and sponsorship agreements, is one with ride-sharing service Uber.
The Braves have “an extensive sponsorship agreement with the transportation company Uber to provide Braves fans transportation to and from Braves games at SunTrust Park,” the complaint said.
In addition to the cyberpiracy count, the complaint asserts claims for violations of federal and state law including trademark infringement, unfair competition, trademark dilution and unfair and deceptive trade practices.