A Yankees Foul Ball?

A Yonkers woman is suing the team for trademark infringement over its logo

A Yonkers woman is claiming that one of the most indelible logos in sports was stolen.

Tanit Buday is suing the New York Yankees in Manhattan Federal Court, claiming that the team never paid her uncle for creating their instantly recognizable logo—the baseball bat in the top hat.

Buday filed suit yesterday charging the franchise with trademark infringement.

Her uncle's story goes back more than 50 years when Jacob Ruppert and Del Webb owned the team in 1936. According to the court filing, the two men were getting a manicure, chatting about the need for a better logo, when the beautician, Stella Buday, suggested her brother, a graphic artist in Europe, could come up with something good.

The brother, Kenneth Timur, who also drew cartoons and specialized in calligraphy in Denmark, was commissioned by Ruppert to create a design—the bat in the top hat logo, Buday claims. It was not until 10 years later, when Timur moved to the United States, that he found out that the Yankees had adopted his work, without paying him a cent, according to the court papers.

Timur was asked again by Ruppert to redesign the logo in 1952 for the 50-year anniversary of the team's moving to New York from Baltimore. This time Timur left his mark in the commemorative logo, replacing the 9 in 1903—the year the franchise moved to the Big Apple—with a 'P,' the way Buday often signed his art, according to the suit.

What he did not do was to register his design with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Several times during the 1950s the artist tried—and failed—to get the Yankees to pay him for the work, the court documents allege. Buday says she has made it her mission to pick up where her uncle left off.

She approached the Yankees lawyers with her claims, but they laughed her out of the stadium. Next Buday's lawyer turned to marketing expert Robert Wallace, who compared Timur's design with the current Yankee logo. Wallace found some slight differences between the two, but concluded in a report filed with the court documents that "these subtle differences are dramatically outweighed by the exceptionally large number of similarities shared between the logos."

Wallace also said that the 'P' on the 1952 patch could not have been placed there accidentally. "The presence of the Timur 'signature P' in the patch logo seems to be relevant evidence that The New York Yankees association had every intention of allowing Timur's distinctive 'P' signature to appear on the logo, possibly as a way of acknowledging Timur's work and its contribution to the New York Yankees' brand," Wallace writes in his report.

The franchise disagrees.

"We have not been served. However there is no proof of this claim,” wrote Alice McGillion, a Yankees spokeswoman, in a statement.

"This is a wonderful country where anybody can sue for anything," she added, "even when the allegations are over 70 years old."

This is one matchup that could go into extra innings.