Law of Cards: NBA, MLB, NHL, CLC Go After More Alleged Memorabila Counterfeiters

Law of Cards: NBA, MLB, NHL, CLC Go After More Alleged Memorabila Counterfeiters

On December 12, fresh off the heels of their huge victory against almost 900 websites, the NBA, MLB, NHL, CLC, University of Alabama and University of Oklahoma have filed a new lawsuit against as-of-yet unidentified websites. The suit alleges  more selling of unlicensed and counterfeit goods.

So far, this new lawsuit is tracking the strategy of their first suit. The plaintiffs filed their complaint in the Northern District of Illinois (the same court as the first lawsuit) with a motion for a temporary restraining order (very similar motion to the one filed in the first case) to shut down the websites allegedly selling un-licensed goods (identical causes of action). Also, like the first suit, the identities of the infringers are currently "under seal," so we won't learn who the defendants are until later in the action.

From here, I expect the court will treat this lawsuit in a similar way as it did the first suit. It has a different judge, but, I expect he'll grant the motion for a temporary restraining order (a hearing on the motion took place on December 18, and an order will likely soon follow). From there, I expect the court will make that restraining order more permanent, then later issue a default judgment against the defendant websites if they fail to show up to defendant themselves.

The first suit ended in two months. This one will likely last just as long also.

Since this is the second lawsuit of this type from the plaintiffs within less than six months, I imagine we're going to see more of these in the future. And it's a good strategy. The plaintiffs have a set of proven, cookie-cutter filings which they can customize and reuse to shutdown infringers whenever they pop up.

Given this, in a month or two, I'd imagine the plaintiffs will file their third lawsuit in the Northern District of Illinois against a new batch of infringers, which will look very similar to this one. Then that lawsuit will go on for a few months, get wrapped up, and then we'll see another.

It wouldn't shock me to see new plaintiffs adopt similar strategies in the Northern District of Illinois. The NBA, MLB, NHL, CLC, BAMA and OU have trail-blazed an efficient process to shutdown foreign-based websites which allegedly sell counterfeit jerseys. With their success, why should any future plaintiff (like, say the NFL or other sports leagues) want to re-create the wheel? Also, it wouldn't shock me if we see lawsuits of this type in other industries outside of sporting goods and memorabilia.

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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+.

User Comments

  1. Paul, I certainly agree that all these lawsuits could continue and should be filed. But one of the biggest culprits in allowing similar things to happen is eBay. There are a few sellers I have reported for selling copies of autographed photos. This to me is no different than selling copies of copied software or reprinting a book and reselling it. I have also sent emails to the sellers of these copied autographed photos and asked them if they are the photographer or have the copyrights to the copied autograph photos they are selling. I have not received a reply. One of the sellers on eBay is doing this with numerous photos of sports stars, movie stars, etc. These people need to be investigated and shut down in my opinion.

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