Little League Baseball, Incorporated, more commonly referred to as “Little League”, is a federally-chartered corporation to which Congress has granted the exclusive right and owner of the following trademarks, service marks and other designations: LITTLE LEAGUE, LITTLE LEAGUER, LITTLE LEAGUE BASEBALL, BIG LEAGUE LITTLE LEAGUE BASEBALL, SENIOR LEAGUE LITTLE LEAGUE BASEBALL, LITTLE LEAGUE SOFTBALL, LITTLE LEAGUE CHALLENGER DIVISION, LL, LLB, International Tournament marks, and the Little League Emblems or logos (e.g. keystone patch, Character, Courage and Loyalty logo; oval baseball and oval softball logos), among others. Collectively these are referred to as the Little League Trademarks, which identify the program, its products, and its services in the United States and other countries including Mexico, Canada, Japan, Australia, among others. Whenever the words Little League appear online or in print, the Little League Trademarks should always be capitalized and refer only to the activities of Little League.
Local League Use of the Words “Little League”
Local leagues receive permission per the annual charter agreement process to use Little League Trademarks in connection with authorized local league activities as described in THE OFFICIAL REGULATIONS, or in the OFFICIAL RULES of the Little League® Rulebook.
This permission, which is effective only while a league remains chartered, includes the right to use the words “Little League” as part of the local league name, and to use that Trademark and the Little League Emblems or logos on uniforms, in press releases issued by the local league, in programs, and at the local league facilities on scoreboards, and other signs. All such uses of Little League Trademarks must include the local league name such as the city, town or other similar reference. The local league may choose to design a logo to represent the league. Such logo may contain the words Little League in conjunction with their local league program. When considering a logo for the local league, please reference Rule 1.11(e) regarding uniform requirements and restrictions.
Limitations of Using the Words “Little League”
Chartered leagues may not use the Little League Trademarks in connection with any other activity or program, or as a part of a composite name covering unrelated programs. The Little League Trademarks may not, for example, appear on the league website, flyers, commercials, print advertisements, social media posts, or press releases of other sports organizations, commercial enterprises, or businesses. For example, the local league should not grant permission to a local business to advertise its association with the local league whereby the local business directly profits from the use of the name.
Further, the Little League Trademarks may not be used separately or in connection with the name of any other program or activity for the purpose of soliciting funds to be used for activities other than Little League activities.
NOTE: Special conditions apply for leagues that operate their program in connection with a Parks and Recreation Department. However, all policy requirements regarding trademarks apply.
If you identify a situation where a league or individual is using the trademarks of Little League in a manner you believe violates Little League Trademark rights, please contact [email protected].
Soliciting Funds Using the Words “Little League”
The use of the Little League Trademarks by any person, organization, business entity, or league not chartered by Little League or in an unauthorized manner is an infringement of Little League Trademark rights.
It is the policy of Little League International not to endorse any company, commercial product, or service with the exception of those items of approved partners including those that manufacture playing equipment and other materials and entities associated with Little League International. Any use of the Little League Trademarks, unless expressly granted by Little League International, which falsely tends to imply such an endorsement is an infringement.
Additionally, local leagues and Districts that operate under a tax exempt non-profit status must be in compliance with their specific state requirements for charitable solicitations among non-profits. Additional steps may be required of leagues or districts before you are permitted to solicit funds in the name of the league in your local community. Such guidelines also may pertain to games of chance, raffles, crowdfunding, sponsorship, and other contests that are used as fundraisers.
Be sure to check your individual state laws or other requirements regarding fundraising and be sure that you adhering to these guidelines with all activities. Helpful resources can be found by searching LittleLeagueUniversity.org for “state laws fundraising” and “non-profit fundraising.”
Restricted Use of “Little League” By Third Parties
Under no circumstances may local leagues, District Administrators, or other field personnel permit the Little League Trademarks (which includes the words Little League®) to be used on or in connection with any business products or services including the sale of products or services. The local league does not have the right to permit, transfer, or assign use of Little League Trademarks to any third-party entity for any purpose, even if the third party has made a donation or commitment of a donation to the league. This includes the use of the Trademarks or logos associated with the International Tournament marks.
Further, the Little League Trademarks are representative of specific baseball and softball programs chartered with Little League International and should not be used as merely a descriptive term for all youth athletic programs.
Exploitation of the Little League program, a District, a league, a team, or individual players, for the benefit, financially or otherwise, of an individual or a business will not be condoned. Leagues which permit any type of exploitation run the risk of losing their charter.
Licensed and Approved Products/Partners
Little League International encourages all leagues and its members to use the partners of Little League International, including licensed partners, to produce any special goods, products and/or fundraising requests that could benefit the local league.
If producing pins or awards, a Little League vendor must be used*. A list of approved licensed partner and further information can be found here: LittleLeague.org/Licensing. If producing trophies or awards, leagues and Districts are encouraged to use an approved licensed partner of Little League.
Such partners are familiar with policies regarding Little League Trademark usage and protection of Little League trademarks. If you have questions regarding the production of trophies, awards or other products, please contact the Little League Licensing Department for more information at [email protected].
There may be a situation in which a league or district cannot use a licensed partner to meet a specific need. In these situations, Little League International may permit a single-use agreement be completed. A single-use agreement, which may be granted on occasion would permit a league or district to use a supplier outside of our licensed partner. Such an agreement must be obtained from the Little League Licensing Department prior to logo use.
A league or district can request the usage of said Little League trademarks in various capacities, however, the understanding is that Little League Trademarks are only dispersed to any other party with the consent of Little League International. It is also understood that the outside supplier may not utilize the marks for financial gain. For more information on obtaining a single-use agreement, please email [email protected]. Forms can also be found on LittleLeague.org/Licensing.
*International leagues are encouraged to use a licensed vendor. However, if such vendors cannot meet international requirements, please contact [email protected] to obtain a one-time use agreement for country-specific vendors.
Guidelines for Local League Fundraising and Sponsorship
Donors and sponsors of teams at any level of the Little League program should be motivated by the single objective of making a worthwhile community contribution and help make their community a better place in which to live. Sponsorships should be positioned as donations to the local league. Local leagues and Districts must recognize that they have a responsibility to the local community to see to it that funds collected in the name of the league are used for league purposes and not for any other purpose. Further, great care must be taken to assure that such funds are not misappropriated or misused.
Sponsorship of local leagues is an important way for local Little Leagues to raise funds for operations. It must be understood, however, that sponsorship donation does not give the sponsoring entity any rights in the operation of the league or any team, nor does it give the local league sponsor the right to use Little League Trademarks in any way. For example, such prohibited use includes giving a local business entity the right promote the local league in the advertising, social media, commercials, or public relations in any manner. The local league must conduct its own recognition efforts for any and all promotion of activities related to the local league operations. By way of example, a local car dealership provides a cash and equipment donation to a local league. The local league must do its own press release or announcement to recognize the donation.
The local league or District may not take any sponsorships; accept donations; advertisements, such as lettering on uniforms, fence signs, program ads, website, etc.; conduct any raffles or contests; or have any affiliation with sponsors, donors, or products that relate to or reference alcohol; tobacco products; e-cigarettes; vaping; marijuana, cannabidiol (CBD) oil, hemp plant derivatives or products, or other controlled substances; firearms; political campaigns in support of an individual and/or party; gambling; or adult or mature content. Leagues and Districts should carefully evaluate donations and sponsorships, avoiding those which may, according to local community standards or local league membership, be objectionable or offensive. Additional standards for sponsorship may be set by the local Little League. Little League International reserves the right to restrict a local league or District sponsorship that may be deemed offensive or inappropriate for affiliation with the Little League program.
Little League International also reserves the right to prohibit any local Little League or District from accepting a sponsorship, advertisement, or donation if it deems that the sponsor, advertiser, donor, or its products or services are considered offensive or inappropriate to members of the Little League program or if it violates the provisions of the following statement: Little League does not limit participation in its activities on the basis of disability, race, creed, color, national origin, gender, sexual preference, or religious preference.
While the league or district may implement fundraisers for membership to implement, individuals who do not want to participate, should be given an alternative way to provide fundraising support in order to compensate the league for fundraising donations. No league can deny participation to a player or volunteer in regular season or tournament due to lack of fundraising support.
Local Leagues should also maintain similar guidelines for fundraising during Tournament. Statements noted above apply to local league fundraising at all times throughout the year, including during the International Tournament. Additional information on fundraising guidelines for tournament can be found at LittleLeague.org/TournamentFundraising.
General Fundraising Guidance
Leagues should rely on their District Administrators for guidance on local league fundraising plans. District Administrators are urged to establish communication with their leagues in order to (a) give the leagues the benefits of their experience with proposed fundraising efforts, and (b) to pass on to them the experience of other leagues in similar ventures. Guidance should be provided on fundraising plans and efforts to gather funds from within the boundaries of the local league.
It is customary to formalize an agreement for sponsorship with local businesses. Such an agreement should not put any burden or liability on the league, nor should it grant permission to the business to use any Little League Trademarks. An example of a local league sponsorship agreement can be found at LittleLeague.org/SponsorshipAgreement.
At times, leagues may be asked to indemnify or insure a sponsor for their activities with the league. Leagues should carefully review all provisions of any agreement before signing. Local leagues are not responsible for taking on the liability of the activity of a sponsor, even if that sponsor is supporting a local Little League or is associated with the league through a sponsorship agreement.
On occasion it has come to the attention of Little League International that leagues have been victimized by participating in fundraising plans proposed by third parties as an easy means to obtain necessary funds. These proposals typically involve the designation of a company to act as an agent of the local league, authorizing the company to contact businesses or members of the public in behalf of the local league. It involves the solicitation of donations or sponsorships, the sale of goods, of advertising space, of magazines, photographs, or consists simply of a solicitation of funds on a straight contribution basis.
The use of a third-party company to raise funds, solicit sponsorships, or conduct general marketing or public relations efforts is discouraged and typically results in an inappropriate use of the Little League Trademarks or an inappropriate amount of funds being generated for the league. Additionally, at no time should a league or District release the data of any players, parents, or volunteers to a third party.
Without authority of any kind, some individuals or third parties are prone to represent themselves as agents of Little League because of the magic of the name to solicit payment in the name of Little League and obtain checks made out to the local Little League. The local league has little control over such situations, and such abuses come to their attention or Little League International after the damage has been done.
The endorsing and cashing, in this manner, of checks made out to Little League may well constitute fraud or forgery.
Make this a subject for league meetings. Request your volunteers notify you of any proposed money-raising plan involving outsiders. Examine the proposal, the need for a signed agreement or contract, and make certain there is no possibility that funds will be collected from within the boundaries of neighboring leagues. Please contact Little League International with any questions at [email protected].