Law of Cards Parody: Topps Breaks the First Law of Thermodynamics

Law of Cards Parody: Topps Breaks the First Law of Thermodynamics

Matter cannot be created or destroyed. That is the First Law of Thermodynamics.  And according to the disclaimer on some of its 2012 Topps Triple Threads Baseball cards, the card maker has violated this.

The Triple Threads brand usually attracts collectors that like high-end relic cards with large swatches of material. This product also is known to carry some quirky inserts as well. For 2012, those quirky inserts include American History relic cards of Davy Crockett, Daniel Boone and Casey Jones. Unlike patch or relic cards that feature game-used memorabilia, Topps did something different with this product.

The back of the Crockett, Boone and Jones cards all provide the following profound statement:

"These relics are not from anything at all."

2012 Topps Triple Threads American History Relics Davy Crockett Back Image

Legal translation: That’s right, the relics contained in these cards were created from thin air.

"Anyone can take a jersey, cut it up and put it in a card," a fictitious salesperson from Topps explained, "It takes true innovators to create a relic out of absolutely nothing!"

Topps created matter!?!?

"Yeah, we didn't just create matter," said the Topps salesperson after a gin and tonic (or two), "We created specific types of matter, including some type of fur for that Davy Crockett card.

"That's not raccoon fur from a coon skin cap. It's even rarer. It's fur from NOTHING!"

The Topps Triple Threads products are no strangers to having brushes with the law. Last year, a similar card featuring John Henry card inspired a lawsuit by former employee Chris Holmes. He alleged that Topps used his picture on the card without permission.

"You know, last year it was alleged that we broke the law with that whole John Henry situation," the fictitious salesperson added after three more gin and tonics, "So this time we said, 'Screw it,' let’s just break the law outright.

"Hear that universe? That’s right. We don’t respect the First Law of Thermodynamics. Come on, watcha gonna do? Sue us?"

A more sober (yet still fictitious) source within the Topps legal department was confused that the language appeared just on the fantasy inserts in 2012 Topps Triple Threads.

"Given the recent arrests of individuals allegedly selling game-used jerseys to card companies, we thought language like this was prudent,” he said.

He then added, "However, we instructed Topps to put this language on all patch, relic or game-used cards from here on out, whether it was from a fictitious figure like Casey Jones, a historical figure like Daniel Boone or a current player like Derek Jeter."

This new language is a notable change, even when compared to the John Henry card of last year which read, "The relics on this card are not from any specific event or era."

A more cynical Topps critic from the Twitter-verse took a bleaker view.

"Considering how nebulous some of the game-used language currently was, this change in verbiage was inevitable," the critic stated in her fictitious blog. "I mean, here I have another card from another Topps product that reads, 'The relic on this card is not from any specific game, event or season.' That sounds like this patch came from a whole lot of nothing, too."

Rumor has it that at least one Topps employee was incredulous about the entire situation. "I mean, here, we're trying to make a few fun cards, and for two years in a row, all we get is flack? Unreal. We just can't win."

Which is somewhat fitting because as a physics professor once explained, "The three Laws of Thermodynamics can be summarized as 'You can't win,' 'You can't break even' and 'You can't quit the game.'"

Well, maybe then Topps didn't break the First Law of Thermodynamics. Because although it allegedly created these relics from thin air, no matter what it does, the card maker just can't win.

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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