Law of Cards: Upper Deck Poised to Challenge Panini's MASKS Trademark

Law of Cards: Upper Deck Poised to Challenge Panini’s MASKS Trademark

In a March 24 article, I explained that Panini's MASKS trademark application was published for opposition, and subtly hinted who a potential challenger might be:

"Given this, MASKS appears challengeable to me, and I would expect someone (cough, Upper Deck, cough) might just try."

Just seven days later, Upper Deck filed a request for an extension of time to oppose Panini's MASKS application.

Legal translation: Sometimes, I'm right!

It's not a full-blown opposition. It's a request by Upper Deck for an extension of time so that it could think a little bit longer about whether or not to oppose the MASKS mark. Or, maybe, to talk to Panini to see if it could resolve the matter without the need for a formal opposition.

Given that it's no longer a NHL licensee, I don't think Panini will want to spend money protecting a mark it might not use in the near future, so it might just let this application lapse. Or, since Upper Deck is the NHL's exclusive licensee, maybe Upper Deck might want to buy this mark from Panini.

I could be wrong. Panini might want to fight. It could release unlicensed NHL products. And masks are worn in the NFL too.

Lots of ways this could go.

The Trademark Office gave Upper Deck until May 10 to decide whether or not it wants to file an opposition (or, to file another motion to extend time). So, we'll likely know by then which way Upper Deck and Panini want to go.

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Paul Lesko is a shareholder at Simmons Hanly Conroy and the chair of its Intellectual Property Department ( 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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