New York woman claims copyright to Yankees top hat logo

NEW YORK, April 19 Tue Apr 19, 2011 6:38pm EDT

New York Yankees fan Kam Bielawski, 9, watches the Yankees warm up before the Kansas City Royals' home opener MLB American League baseball game in Kansas City, Missouri, April 10, 2009. REUTERS/Dave Kaup

New York Yankees fan Kam Bielawski, 9, watches the Yankees warm up before the Kansas City Royals' home opener MLB American League baseball game in Kansas City, Missouri, April 10, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Dave Kaup

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NEW YORK, April 19 (Reuters Legal) - The latest enemy of the New York Yankees is not a rival baseball team but a woman who claims her uncle designed its famous top hat logo.

In a claim filed in New York federal court on Monday, Tanit Buday, 63, said her uncle could not afford to challenge the "rich and powerful" Yankees during his lifetime. She said the team should hand over all profits related to the logo, a top hat perched on a baseball bat, which first appeared in 1936.

A spokesperson for the Yankees said that Buday's claim has no merit.

To support her claim, Buday submitted testimony from a branding expert as well as photos of the logo containing a "P," which she said was a signature of her uncle's work.

Buday said Yankees owners commissioned the logo from her uncle after hearing about his work from his sister, who was a manicurist in Brooklyn in the 1930s.

The origins of many famous team logos are murky because there was little effort to track who owned what are now valuable pieces of intellectual property, said Jim Gates, a librarian at the Baseball Hall of Fame. "Prior to 1960, there wasn't any money to be made from T-shirts and hats," he said.

Ed Edmonds, a sports law professor at the University of Notre Dame, said the Yankees logo may be the most valuable in the world after that of the Manchester United soccer team in Britain.

(Reporting by Jeff Roberts of Reuters Legal; Editing by Greg McCune)

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