Law of Cards: Panini One Step Closer to Several New Trademarks

Law of Cards: Panini One Step Closer to Several New Trademarks

Last October, Panini filed a slew of trademark applications on terms like INNOVATION, INTRIGUE, PEN PALS, STATUS, CRUSADE, MASKS, GOLDEN AGE, GOLD STANDARD and CLEAR VISION. A short five months later and the Trademark Office just published these trademarks for opposition.

Legal translation: Panini is about to get trademark registrations for these marks. If you are in the industry and don't want Panini to own these terms as trademarks on trading cards, you might want to file an opposition within the next 30 days.

In predicting whether anyone will file an opposition, the most intriguing term to me is not INTRIGUE. It's MASKS.

Why?

Because In the Game has trading cards entitled THE MASK and Upper Deck has MASK COLLECTION cards. If Panini should somehow obtain a registered trademark on MASKS, it could potentially block others from using the words MASKS or even MASK as trademarks on trading cards. And yes, the future of THE MASK and MASK COLLECTION cards would be uncertain.

Also, Upper Deck is now the exclusive licensee for NHL cards and it behooves it to keep as many hockey terms free for its use, whereas Panini no longer has an NHL license following 2013-14. So it might not put up much of a fight to keep a hockey mark.

Given this, MASKS appears challengeable to me, and I would expect someone (cough, Upper Deck, cough) might just try.

Check back in about a month to see if I'm right, or to see if anyone challenges any of Panini's other marks. Otherwise, Panini's collection of intellectual property will soon grow considerably.

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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