Law of Cards: MLB, NHL, NBA, CLC Get Massive Judgment in Fake Memorabilia Case

Law of Cards: MLB, NHL, NBA, CLC Get Massive Judgment in Fake Memorabilia Case

The lawsuit brought by the University of Alabama, Major League Baseball, the University of Oklahoma, the National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League and the Collegiate Licensing Company against 893 defendant websites that allegedly sold counterfeit goods using the plaintiffs' trademarks has come to an amazing conclusion for the plaintiffs. In a November 20 order, the Northern District of Illinois ordered that each defendant must pay the plaintiffs statutory damages in the amount of $2 million.

Legal translation: Wow, let's see. That's 893 defendant websites times $2 million each. If my quick math is correct that's like a ka-jillion dollars.

Keep in mind the case only began on October 8, so to get such an astronomical result is nothing short of amazing.

It helped, however, that the defendant websites didn't show up to defend themselves. In fact, because all the defendants allegedly were foreign websites, I'd be shocked if the plaintiffs ever collect more than $200,000.

But the massive judgment was not the plaintiffs' only goal. They wanted those 893 websites shutdown. And they got that, too. The judge made the initial, temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction permanent.

Legal translation: All that stuff the defendants had to stop doing while the lawsuit was on-going, they have to keep not doing. This includes 1) continuing to not use any of the plaintiffs' trademarks or selling any goods with those marks and 2) basically, needing to shutdown their web sites.

So, to summarize, in less than two months, the plaintiffs shut down 893 websites and received a victory (which, although pyrrhic, is still stupendous) of $18 billion dollars.

I think the attorneys working on those cases earned their billable hours.

For those interested, a copy of the final order (outlining the terms of the injunction and defendant names) is here, and the $2 million award per defendant order is here.

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 has litigated intellectual property for over 15 years. 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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