Sony sued for trademark infringement over ‘MLB the Show’ use of ‘Future Stars Program’

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Sony Interactive is being sued by Program 15, the company that owns the Future Star Series amateur baseball development program. Program 15 is alleging trademark infringement for Sony’s use of the “Future Star Series Program” as part of the popular “MLB the Show” video game.

In the suit, Program 15 claims that the “Future Stars Series Program” feature found in “MLB the Show” unlawfully infringes on Program 15’s trademarks and creates material confusion between the Future Stars Series and the video game feature. The Future Star Series (FSS) was launched in 2016; the “Future Stars Series Program” has been a feature in “MLB the Show” since 2017.

Founded by former MLB scout Jeremy Booth, Program 15 runs the Future Star Series, which includes player development coaching, combines and tournaments. Last year, Program 15 entered a partnership with Stack Sports and began a collaboration with Area Code Baseball, one of the largest amateur baseball showcase platforms.

Program 15 alleges that Sony has profited from the Futures Stars Series brand by selling items through the “MLB the Show” online marketplace, including virtual baseball cards and packs with the Future Stars and Future Stars Series branding. Some of those virtual cards allegedly featured players who participated in Program 15’s Future Stars Series events as amateurs. Alumni of FSS include Grayson Rodriguez, Drew Gilbert, Tink Hence, Ricky Tiedemann, Zac Veen and 2023 MLB first-round picks Dylan Crews and Tommy Troy.

Program 15 is seeking damages related to trademark infringement, false advertising and unjust enrichment, among other claims.

The original suit was filed last August in the U.S. District Court for Southern District of Texas. On Monday, Program 15 filed a motion to compel document production and responses to discovery requests, claiming that the defendants have refused to properly respond to several requests for documents. The trial is currently scheduled for February  2025.

Program 15 declined to comment, and Sony did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

(Photo: Jason Hanna / MLB Photos via Getty Images)

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