As the world’s largest and most respected youth sports program, Little League® is often used generically with children’s activities, but we all know that there is only one Little League Baseball and Softball.
Since its founding in 1939, the reputation and recognition of the program has expanded throughout the world, and with saturation of the name Little League comes the risk of misuse.
In order to protect the Little League name, and its trademarked logos from becoming generic, Little League International goes to great lengths to educate local leagues on the benefits of being an affiliated Little League program and how to properly use and display its name and brand.
First, and most important, is the fact that a local league can only use the Little League trademark if it is chartered with the Little League Baseball and Softball. This simply means to be Little League, an annual charter must be submitted and approved.
The current Little League Official Regulations, Playing Rules, and Policies states: The following trademarks, service marks, and other designations: LITTLE LEAGUE, LITTLE LEAGUER, LITTLE LEAGUE BASEBALL, SENIOR LEAGUE LITTLE LEAGUE BASEBALL, LITTLE LEAGUE SOFTBALL, LITTLE LEAGUE CHALLENGER DIVISION, LL, LLB, and the Little League Emblems or logos (e.g. keystone patch; Character, Courage and Loyalty logo; oval baseball and oval softball logos), among others, are collectively 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.
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, and they are encouraged to use Little League in their marketing and promotional materials to help parents identify their local community program.
This permission, which is effective only while a league remains chartered, includes the right to use Little League Trademarks as part of the local league name, and to use that trademark and the Little League Emblems or logos on stationery, 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 a 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) in the current Little League Official Regulations, Playing Rules, and Policies regarding uniform requirements and specifications.
Authorized usage of the Little League trademarks permits a local league:
- Utilization of the Little League trademarks as part of their identity, such as part of their local league chapter name;
- The ability to communicate freely in press releases, league correspondence (flyers, posters, banners, programs) and league websites;
- Artistically, to place the trademark on league uniforms, creation of local league identity, and etc.
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.
Essentially, Little League trademarks can only be used for purposes directly associated with your local Little League program. The Little League trademarks may not, for example, appear on stationery, bulletins, 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 create advertising of 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.
More information on how local leagues are to properly use the Little League trademarks is available on LittleLeague.org or in the Local League Resource Guide. Below is a quick-reference listing of the authorized and unauthorized use of Little League’s trademarks.
Unauthorized usage of the Little League trademarks includes:
- With any other activity or program, or in unison with activities or programs that are totally unrelated;
- Infringement when an entity or entities uses the Little League Trademarks without seeking permission;
- Filming a commercial with a local business using Little League name and Trademarks
- Permission, transference, or assignment of the Little League Trademarks to any third party entity, regardless if the acting third party has made a donation to the league’s benefit.