Monday, November 11, 2013

National Basketball Association v. Motorola, Inc. case brief

National Basketball Association v. Motorola, Inc. case brief summary
105 F.3d 841 (2d Cir. 1997)

Appellants, a marketer and a supplier, sought review of a permanent injunction entered by the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, which barred appellants from transmitting "real-time" sports game data via handheld pagers. Appellees, a basketball association and a related entity, cross-appealed the dismissal of their claims under § 43(a) of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C.S. § 1125(a).


Appellants were enjoined from transmitting scores or other data about professional basketball games in progress via handheld pagers. Appellees had brought various trademark and misappropriation claims against appellants for the transmissions. The district court found that appellants were liable for misappropriation. It also dismissed appellees' claims for false advertising under the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C.S. § 1125(a).


  • On review, the court held that appellees' state law claims for misappropriation survived preemption. 
  • Because appellants expended their own resources to collect purely factual information, they did not free-ride on appellees' product. 
  • As to appellees' cross-appeal, the court held that the alleged false statements pertained to nonmaterial minutiae that did not misrepresent an inherent quality or characteristic of the appellees' product.


The court vacated the injunction because it found that appellants were not liable for misappropriation of the game data and affirmed the dismissal of appellees' Lanham Act claim because the false statements did not effect a misrepresentation of appellants' product.

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