ATLANTA, GA -- Everett Steele isn't making blue, tomahawk-emblazoned shirts anymore that say "Atlanta Barves."
Major League Baseball "sent me a cease and desist letter earlier this week," Steele said.
For the last month or so, Steele and his wife Allison sold Barves shirts on the web. They describe it as an affectionate spoof of a misspelling that came to life on Twitter among some Atlanta Braves fans.
"It's a way to talk about the Braves in a funny and interesting way I guess," Allison Steele said Monday, before the letter was sent.
But the Braves took issue with it, and so did Major League Baseball. In a letter sent May 9, MLB told their Steeles their Barves shirts and stickers "dilute and/or tarnish the distinctive quality of the Braves Marks. Accordingly ...(it) constitutes trademark infringement, unfair competition, false designation of origin, and/or trademark dilution, in violation of federal, state and/or common law."
"I don't have the deep pockets to fight them," Everett Steele said Friday. "There were more lawyers CC'd on the cease and desist letter email than I've met in my entire life. So there's not much fight they're going to get out of me."
Steele has shut down his atlantabarves.com site, which now says "ceased and desisted.biz." Steele says he has donated $850 to the Braves foundation, which he says exceeds his net proceeds from the shirts. And he laments what he thinks was a lost opportunity for the real Atlanta Braves.
"Instead of... capitalizing on the opportunity to sort of catalyze their fan base, they've instead attacked the people who are passionate and love their brand," Steele said. "It doesn't make any sense to me."
But it makes sense to the Atlanta Braves, who wrote in an emailed statement earlier this week: "We appreciate the fandom that this company is trying to exhibit but we also need them to realize it's illegal and could harm our business." The Braves declined further comment Friday.
Meantime -- at least one Barves copycat has surfaced. And thatBarves hashtag on Twitter apparently remains out of MLB's reach.