“The Microsoft of kickball”?

Apparently kickball isn’t just for elementary school students anymore: the website DCist reports that a lawsuit filed last February by the World Adult Kickball Association (“WAKA”) against rival adult kickball league (I’m having trouble reporting this without snickering) DC Kickball is still kicking around in the federal courts a year later.

The original complaint doesn’t appear to be online, but the Washington City Paper provided more details last year, including:

The complaint accuses DCKickball founder Carter Rabasa of copyright infringement for unauthorized use of WAKA’s co-ed kickball rules, including “the clearly unique requirement that there be 4 men AND 4 women at a minimum to play” and for mandating that “players must be at least 21 years old.” No other specific rules or intellectual-property thefts are mentioned, but the suit points out that David Fischer, a volunteer director for DCKickball, was previously a player for the WAKA team “Scoregasm.”

The suit also accuses Rabasa of defamation, based on his calling WAKA “the Microsoft of kickball” in a 2005 Washington City Paper story (“Kickball Wars,” Cheap Seats, 5/13) and his additional comments in a subsequent Wall Street Journal article. Those comments, the suit alleges, incited a kickballer to post “WAKA bites it” on the DCKickball Web site.

To the extent this represents the entire complaint (there also seems to be an unspecified trademark claim as well), it appears utterly meritless. You can’t copyright the rules of a game (although you can copyright the specific wording used), and in any case, neither of the rules cited sound particularly original. And “the Microsoft of kickball” may be insulting to a Macintosh fan, but is not defamatory. These hurdles don’t seem to faze WAKA, though; the company is suing its much smaller competitor for at least $350,000.

But WAKA is apparently very aggressive; it has reportedly sent out cease-and-desist letters to at least two other competitors, according to the City Paper article, accusing them of violating its intellectual property, trade secrets (!), and a non-compete clause (for an unpaid volunteer).

And since “turn the other cheek” is not one of the canons of legal ethics, DC Kickball has countersued for violations of federal and DC antitrust law.

Seriously, adults play kickball? Seriously?

9 Comments

  • I don’t know if adults play kickball, but I do know that lawyers play hardball.

  • Hey, kickball is a lot of fun.

  • I can’t believe you missed the chance to make an ESPN the Ocho joke here, but maybe you missed Dodgeball.

    I was at my son’s baseball game at one of those big baseball mega-parks we have here in the southwest and sure enough they had flyers up everywhere for their adult kickball league. They even had pictures, from which it appeared that beer was fairly integral to the sport.

  • If I didn’t know better, I’d swear this is a put-on conspiracy between them to elevate the profile of kickball.

    If it isn’t, then sanctions are due.

  • David, you may need to get out more–not only do adults play kickball now, they also play dodgeball! (Even NFL players and the guys from “American Chopper” have played dodgeball on various episodes of their shows.)

  • “players must be at least 21 years old.”

    Typical, old enough to fight for your country, but not old enough to play kickball.

  • Jokes aside, I’m really interested in that antitrust counterclaim for a paper I’m working on. You wouldn’t happen to have a copy of it, would you?

  • Coyote — I’ve seen it. I even considered the joke; I just wasn’t quite sure how to work it in.

    Melvin — hey, the way things are going, only adults will play dodgeball, because schools are dropping it either out of political correctness or fears of litigation.

  • I played every Sunday for 2 years, and still have friends who do. Of course it wasn’t league play, and it involved a lot of beer.