According to the Wall Street Journal, a private entrepreneur, Evil Enterprises Inc., has been trying to trademark the phrase “Baseballs Evil Empire,” since 2008, but a panel of trademark judges in Washington, D.C., denied the request earlier this month.
Evil Enterprises wanted the rights to the phrase — famously coined by Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino in 2002 — to market merchandise with the saying. Lucchino bestowed the title on the Yankees after New York signed highly touted Cuban pitcher Jose Contreras.
“The evil empire extends its tentacles even into Latin America,” Lucchino reportedly said after the signing.
While it wasn’t exactly a compliment, the phrase stuck, and the Yankees have even started embracing it by playing “The Imperial March” during home games. The strong connection between the Yanks and the saying is what led the team to fight the trademark request, stating they had rights to the phrase.
Along with the Star Wars music, the Yankees also referenced a number of articles from the past decade that associated the term “Evil Empire” with their team. Their argument was enough for the judges to rule on the side of the team, saying to allow anyone else to use the phrase exclusively would likely cause confusion.
“In short, the record shows that there is only one Evil Empire in baseball and it is the New York Yankees,” the judges wrote. “Accordingly, we find that [the Yankees] have a protectable trademark right in the term … as used in connection with baseball.”
On Friday, Lucchino complimented the organization for taking his words and spinning them to fit their image.
“I give them credit,” Lucchino said. “Their embracing it is clever indeed.”
While other teams have since been referred to as “evil empires,” the title remains with the Yankees, and it’s going to take a lawsuit to overturn that ruling.