Law of Cards: Trademark Fight Over Bloodlines Brewing

Law of Cards: Trademark Fight Over Bloodlines Brewing

In 2009, Topps released its first Bloodlines UFC cards. What started out as an insert set, soon became its own standalone brand. Despite what looks like a good degree of success, Topps did not file a trademark application for the term BLOODLINES until July, 2013.

Why the delay? Well, on March 15, 2013, an individual named John Bigica filed a trademark application for BLOODLINES in association with "Decorative decals for vehicle windows; Stickers."

Although Bigica's filing differs from Topps' filing (which is focused on "trading cards"), it appears to be too close to comfort because on September 3, Topps filed a request for an extension of time to file an opposition with the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board ("TTAB").

Legal translation: That's an overly complex way of saying Topps either wants more time to 1) consider whether to formally oppose Bigica's BLOODLINES application, or, more likely, 2) see if it can resolve this matter with Bigica without spending a lot of money on attorneys.

Bigica's BLOODLINES application does not contain a specimen (legal translation: an example of how his mark is used in commerce, not a blood sample), so it's unclear what type of product he wishes to offer (mixed martial arts, or something else). Regardless, his and Topps' applications are broad, and cover all types of decals/stickers or trading cards (respectively). If Bigica's product is used for something else (say, amusement parks for vampires, so they can enjoy the fun of standing in lines for hours), there might be a way he can limit his application to a specific good or service to avoid a confrontation with Topps.

Topps has until December 4 before it needs to file an opposition, resolve the matter or ask for another extension of time. Likely we won't hear about this matter again for three months.

I suspect, by then, the matter will be resolved with little to no blood loss from either side.

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.

The views expressed in the "Law of Cards" column are solely those of the author and are not affiliated with the Simmons Law Firm. You should not act or rely on any information in the "Law of Cards" column without seeking the advice of an attorney. The determination of whether you need legal services and your choice of a lawyer are very important matters that should not be based on websites or advertisements.

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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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