Law of Cards: Rally Squirrel Opposition on Its Last Legs?

Law of Cards: Rally Squirrel Opposition on Its Last Legs?

It's estimated that more than 90 percent of cases settle before trial. Take, for example, the Rally Squirrel trademark opposition. To briefly recap, during the 2011 playoffs, a trespassing, tree rat (legal translation: squirrel) darted across the plate during Skip Schumacher's at bat. The squirrel was anointed the "Rally Squirrel," and inexplicably became a sensation with (some) Cardinals fans and the media.

Rally Squirrel Mania was so contagious it also inspired trading cards that notably lacked the phrase "Rally Squirrel."

Rally Squirrel Card Image

Why? Well, soon after the rodent crossed home plate, a company called PBR Industries filed a trademark application so it could control the phrase, "Rally Squirrel." Notably, PBR allegedly had no contacts with the St. Louis Cardinals or with the squirrel that started this whole mess.

Last December (a little over a year after PBR's application was filed), the Cardinals began a battle over who would own the trademark by filing an opposition with the Trademark Office.

Since then, nothing happened in the case until the St. Louis Cardinals requested on June 5, 2013, that the trademark opposition be suspended because, "The parties are actively engaged in negotiations for the settlement of this matter. St. Louis Cardinals, LLC requests that this proceeding be suspended for 180 days to allow the parties to continue their settlement efforts."

Legal translation: Whenever both sides say they are "actively engaged" in settlement negotiations, it means the case is done. I'd be shocked if we see any more action in this opposition.

Who's the winner? In all likelihood, the case will settle confidentially, so we won't know if any money changed hands. However, the ultimate goal of this case was to determine who owned the "Rally Squirrel" trademark, which allegedly has value.

Legal translation: If people are fighting over it, someone somewhere thinks it's worth something.

Within 180 days (since that is how long the opposition will be suspended), the status of PBR's trademark application will hint at who won. If the application dies, it's likely the Cardinals won. If it's still alive, and PBR still owns it, that's a strong presumption PBR won. And if ownership of the trademark is transferred to the Cardinals, I'd say it looks like the Cardinals won that way, too.

If it takes the full 180 days, we're going to need to wait until December to find out.

Legal translation: While more than 90 percent of cases settle before trial, 100 percent of cases move slowly. Very slowly.

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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