Angels right fielder Josh Hamilton just prayed away rights to the slogan "Play Hard, Pray Harder." That is, the author of Beyond Belief, his autobiography that details trading drugs and alcohol for Jesus, has settled a lawsuit brought by a Dallas-based entity over trademark rights to the slogan the Angel used on his clothing line.
"In the spirit of Matthew 5:39-40, I have settled the lawsuit over the commercial use of the phrase 'Play Hard, Pray Harder,' agreeing to walk away from its use on clothing rather than defend my rights to use the phrase," says Hamilton in a statement. "My original plan was to raise funds for our grant-making ministry, The Four Twelve Foundation, through the sales of clothing items carrying that phrase. We will continue to look for creative ways to generate additional support for the foundation."
Hamilton's Christian-based foundation helps people in need at home and abroad. Fortunately for you heathens out there, the Book of Matthew (King James version) is the only book I've memorized ...
39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.
40 And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.
Funny, I see nothing about trademark rights in that passage.
Raleigh, North Carolina-based ScriptureArt launched a line of clothing in mid-2012 inspired by the slugger's life and testimony. T-shirts included the message "Play Hard, Pray Harder," a phrase Hamilton says he began using in 2006 to help in his recovery from substance abuse. Two years later, Hamilton also began incorporating the phrase into his talks aimed at getting others to follow a path to God.
But Hamilton and ScriptureArt were sued in federal court in Dallas this past December over use of the phrase by Play Hard Pray Harder LLC, which apparently sells products of its own bearing "Play Hard, Pray Harder."
What's odd is, at least according to this Dec. 15 Dallas Morning News report, Hamilton and ScriptureArt seem to have legitimately used the phrase before the Dallas-based LLC.
[Texas] Secretary of State records show that Joshua Eckel of Dallas and McKinney's Jeffrey Mileger formed Play Hard Pray Harder LLC on January 20 of this year ; the United States Patent and Trademark Office website shows they filed for a trademark on August 29. USPTO records also show that ScriptureArt filed for its trademark in June 13.
The same story has lawyer Eric Fein, who filed the suit on behalf of the LLC, claiming ScriptureArt "filed an intent-to-use application" well after his clients had already begun manufacturing and selling stuff with "Play Hard Pray Harder" on them. ScirptureArt could not be reached for comment at the time.
Now, I'm no lawyer, although I do play one on TV, at least when it is unplugged. Would it not be easy to find video or witnesses who can attest to Hamilton having used the phrase earlier? Couldn't a case be made this is just sour grapes by Christians in Dallas upset about losing the best-known Texas Ranger godboy?
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Ah, well, that's all moot with Hamilton's other cheek turning.
"I'm happy to have this distraction resolved so the Four Twelve Foundation and I can move forward in our mission of helping and encouraging others," he says in the statement.
In other news involving hard-hitting Angel Christians who are under performing despite massive multi-million-dollar contracts from Arte Moreno, first baseman/DH Albert Pujols describes his journey from the Dominican Republic to the major leagues in a short film screening at 3 p.m. at Angel Stadium. Four hours later, the Halos take on Pujols' former team the St. Louis Cardinals at the Big A.