Youth Sports Mag Says Biopic Smeared Its Image

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (CN) – A youth sports publication claims the unauthorized use of its name in the 2016 movie “Spaceman” – featuring Josh Duhamel as drug-addicted former baseball pitcher Bill Lee – has tarnished its squeaky-clean image.

The Sporting Times, a magazine “dedicated to youth sports and, in particular, the role that sports play in strengthening our children, families, and communities,” says a trailer for the film included its trademarked logo without permission.

The publication sued Orion Pictures Inc., Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc., Rhino Films LLC, FilmBuff, and Gunpowder and Sky Distribution LLC in Bowling Green, Ky., federal court on Friday.

It says while “many other publications are also featured [in the trailer] … The Sporting Times is first in placement and the only readily identifiable publication.”

The film is a quasi-biography of former Major League Baseball left-handed pitcher Bill “Spaceman” Lee, who pitched for the Boston Red Sox from 1969 to 1978 and garnered just as much attention for his off-the-field behavior as he did for his in-game performances.

Lee was outspoken on many controversial issues, and once told reporters his use of marijuana made him “impervious to bus fumes” he encountered on the way to Fenway Park in Boston.

The Sporting Times says the trailer has “negatively portrayed [it] as a publication that venerates and promotes over-the-hill athletes with serious addiction problems – the sort of sensationalist story that it would by all means avoid as it is the antithesis of the clean cut girl or boy next door image it actively promotes.”

The lawsuit claims Orion and MGM were contacted about the infringement, but that the companies “in turn, implicated the various other defendants,” but have done nothing to remedy the situation.

According to the complaint, the film’s trailer garnered millions of views on numerous websites, and “on YouTube alone, the trailer was viewed approximately 2 million times.”

The Sporting Times LLC and Sporting Times Franchise LLC seek over $1.4 million in compensatory and punitive damages for alleged violations of the Lanham Act and commercial disparagement.

The magazine is represented by Clare Feler Cox of Lynch, Cox, Gilman, and Goodman in Louisville, Kentucky.

MGM declined to comment on the lawsuit.

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