A sports technology company has taken on the internet unit of Major League Baseball (MLB), alleging that executives misappropriated a pitch-tracking system.
SportsMedia Technology sued MLB Advanced Media (MLBAM) at the US District Court for the Southern District of New York yesterday, April 5. In its 92-page complaint, SportsMedia alleged trade secrets misappropriation, patent infringement and breach of contract.
The suit concerns a contract between by MLBAM and Sportvision (acquired by SportsMedia in 2016), which provides for use of Sportvision’s pitch-tracking system for three full baseball seasons.
“Over its 30-year history, SportsMedia has never encountered an executive leader of a major US sports league behaving as if the rules of civility, professional conduct, US contract law, and US patent law do not apply to their actions and behaviour,” said the claim.
According to the complaint, MLBAM hired a key Sportvision employee to swap components in the system with third-party components.
“Rather than developing an entirely new league-wide pitch tracking and pitch rendering system, MLBAM used the fully-designed, fully-installed and fully functioning Sportvision PITCHf/x system that had been running for nine consecutive MLB seasons … as a blueprint and roadmap,” it added.
SportsMedia went on to allege that within two hours of acquiring Sportvision, Sportvision’s executive vice president resigned from his position and joined MLBAM.
One of the executive’s responsibilities was allegedly to oversee the final implementation and deployment of an MLBAM “derivative” system, called PITCHcast.
SportsMedia claimed that the executive had “unique and intimate knowledge” of the PITCHf/x system and access to highly confidential trade secrets and know-how.
“In order to make PITCHf/x a commercial and technical success, Sportvision employed a vast array of confidential and proprietary intellectual property to ensure that each and every component was seamlessly integrated into PITCHf/x so that precise pitch tracking and measurement can be obtained,” claimed SportsMedia.
PITCHcast also allegedly infringes SportsMedia’s US patent number 7,341,530, which covers a “means for inserting and displaying a strike zone graphic and/or pitch location graphic relative to a strike zone in an image or video”.
SportsMedia is seeking damages, a permanent injunction and a jury trial.