Law of Cards: Christopher Holmes v. Topps Update

Law of Cards: Christopher Holmes v. Topps Update

We've got a small update on the Christopher Holmes v. Topps case--the one where the former Topps employee alleges that Topps should not have used his picture on a 2011 Topps Triple Threads Baseball John Henry card.

Last week, Topps filed an answer to Holmes' complaint. Now, these answers are (normally) short documents with terse statements denying the plaintiff’s allegations.

Legal translation: Usually, they only say "Deny" 50 or so times in as many ways as the attorney drafting the document can imagine.

Because of this, (normally) not much can be gleaned from an answer. And Topps' answer follows true to form. The only real nugget is that it will be Topps' position that Holmes "voluntarily and knowingly posed as John Henry, as himself and as fictional character Wheelbarrow Walker during his employment with Topps."

Legal translation: Reading between the lines, one of Topps' defenses will be that Holmes knew what he was doing, and, by posing, gave Topps the permission it needed to print these cards.

Wheelbarrow Walker was a fictitious player that was featured in 2008 Topps Allen & Ginter. Holmes appeared on the card as a model.

Now that Topps has answered, the case will officially begin. However, justice moves ever so slowly. It'll take some time before we get to see each side's arguments and evidence. That is, if it gets that far. Given this case really focuses on a card that has five total copies, I have a funny feeling it'll settle well before we get that far into discovery.

The information provided in Paul Lesko's "Law of Cards" column is not intended to be legal advice, but merely conveys general information related to legal issues commonly encountered in the sports industry. This information is not intended to create any legal relationship between Paul Lesko, the Simmons Browder Gianaris Angelides & Barnerd LLC or any attorney and the user. Neither the transmission nor receipt of these website materials will create an attorney-client relationship between the author and the readers.

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Paul Lesko is a shareholder at Simmons Hanly Conroy and the chair of its Intellectual Property Department (http://www.simmonsfirm.com). Don’t hold the fact that Paul is a lawyer against him, he’s also a rabid baseball and college basketball fan, and an avid baseball card collector. Paul can be found on Twitter @Paul_Lesko and Google+.

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