Law of Cards: Industry Summit 2014 Summary

Law of Cards: Industry Summit 2014 Summary

The Summit is my favorite trading card industry event. Heck, where else could I speak with (or at least said, "Hi" to) numerous hobby shop owners, trading card artists, UltraPro, Panini, Upper Deck, and, of course, the Cardboard Connection guys, all within the first two-hundred-foot walk after entering?

A two-hundred-foot walk that took half an hour.

This year more excitement surrounded the Summit (at least for Law of Cards) because of the Leaf v. Summit lawsuit. Often, when I'm at a location involved with a lawsuit, it means I’m at a courthouse. Here, the actual event I was attending was being sued.

Kinda metaphysical.

With the Leaf v. Summit lawsuit in mind, I was surprised when after I left my first panel discussion I bumped into Brian Gray, the CEO of Leaf.

In attendance.

At the event he was suing.

At the event he was allegedly blocked from attending.

Although he was wearing a Benchwarmers' name tag.

I initially thought, "Stowaway," but it turned out Leaf and the Summit had settled their differences, as confirmed by a joint March 17 filing.

The March 17 filing, however, was not the end of the lawsuit. Leaf is still pursuing its claims against the John Does who allegedly "influenced, threatened, induced, or directed the Summit" to block Leaf from attending the Summit.

Back to the actual Summit. I spoke at two legal panels, and was inundated with questions from other attendees in between (and during) other sessions. Easily, the most talked about issue was the legality of box breaks. This makes sense. Box breaks account for a healthy percentage of trading card box purchases. And depending on how the breaks are set up, they occupy a gray legal area.

While the legality of box breaks was still up in the air, a consensus arose that razzes (raffles in which there are only one or a limited number of winners) are highly suspect and it would be a shame if negative media/legal events in the razz world bled into the box break world.

Other commonly raised issues focused on the recent proliferation of Internet/app lawsuits like Pokemon v. the Pokellector, Collectors Universe v Kountz/SaintSoft LLC and Collectors Universe v. MWP Software and Matthew Perry. A number of app manufacturers were in attendance, and given the increasing availability of online products, and the ease that others can infringe trading card copyrights, such lawsuits are likely to increase.

Unfortunately, I was only at the conference for a day and a half, not long enough to get everyone's views on these issues. I would have loved to get a consensus from the manufacturers on box breaks, and on the questions raised in Internet/app lawsuits.

But, I guess we'll just have to wait until next year, or until lawsuits are filed by them or against them on these issues.

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 ( 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. That was one of the better panels of the show. Every other sessions were boring this year!

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