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Who owns "sabermetrics?"

By January 15, 2010

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Sabermetrics is under attack. Not the actual science - the deep study of baseball statistics - but the name itself.

A New York marketing firm wants to trademark the term for its own commercial use - they've worked with ESPN Fantasy Baseball in past ventures (click on their dizzying Flash site under clients) - and the Society for American Baseball Research opposes the move.

At issue is who owns the term - and SABR should have a good case. After all, baseball stats pioneer Bill James named it after the group.

"We believe sabermetrics is a generic term and should remain in the public domain," SABR executive director John Zajc said in a statement. "SABR is part of a larger movement toward open-source sharing of information. Having a private company own a federal trademark registration for a term in common use in our industry is not in line with that philosophy."

James himself says he believes the phrase can't be trademarked, because its definition is that statistical analysis of baseball stats are shared and open.

A couple of years ago, baseball stat services found themselves in a fight with MLB over who owns baseball's statistics, and the courts determined that stats are in the public domain. It seems logical that "sabermetrics" should be, too.

Interested in learning more about sabermetrics? Check out our sabermetrics glossary, and how to apply it to fantasy baseball.


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