After nearly a year of contentious litigation, a New York jury decided today that baseball's teams had ripped off the New York Yankees' innovative "home run," in which a batter hits the baseball over the outfield fence for a run. The jury ordered Major League Baseball's other 29 teams to pay the Yankees $4.5 billion in damages and immediately stop using the team's patented home run hit.
"Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Reggie Jackson … the Yankees invented the home run," said MIchael Rogers, the team's lead attorney. "The evidence was compelling and I am glad the jury made the right decision."
The Yankees filed their patent infringement lawsuit on October 7, 2011, one day after being eliminated by the Detroit Tigers in the divisional round of the playoffs, and paid scores of the country's highest-paid patent lawyers to promote their case.
Although an appeal is planned, it will likely fail.
"We really didn't have much of a shot," said Pete Jones, a 25 year-old attorney who works part-time for the Kansas City Royals. "The Yankees did not hit the first home run. Unfortunately, when it comes to the law, it doesn't matter who has the facts on their side if the one side has unlimited money and resources. Also, arguing before a New York City jury didn't do us any favors. They deliberated for 35 seconds."
Major League Baseball teams, other than the Yankees, are now banned from hitting home runs over the fence. Any home runs accidentally hit will counts as an out and result in a $1 million fine payable to the Yankees. Inside-the-park home runs are allowed, although one attorney on the Yankees' vast roster of lawyers said a lawsuit over those type of home runs will also be filed if the team loses a playoff game due to one.
MLB commissioner Bud Selig had no comment on the ruling, as his secretary said he had fallen asleep at his desk again.
The Red Sox will also now reportedly file a massive lawsuit alleging they own the patent on home runs "because the Yankees did it, so it's probably something we should do, too," said a team source.