Law of Cards - Recent Trading Card Trademark Filings

Law of Cards – Recent Trading Card Trademark Filings

Over the last few days, several interesting trading card-related trademark applications have been filed.

The most intriguing, and potentially controversial, filing is for “Yellow Mamba," which likely is a reference to the amazing basketball story that is Jeremy Lin. The details of the filing are below:

Word Mark YELLOW MAMBA
Goods and Services IC 025. US 022 039. G & S: Clothing; shirts, hats, jackets, socks, shorts, pants, hooded sweatshirts; posters; mugs; cups; magnets, pins; banners; basketballs, figurines; games; trading cards
Standard Characters Claimed
Mark Drawing Code (4) STANDARD CHARACTER MARK
Serial Number 85541646
Filing Date February 13, 2012
Current Filing Basis 1B
Original Filing Basis 1B
Owner (APPLICANT) Nicholas Ellenoff INDIVIDUAL UNITED STATES c/o Ellenoff Grossman & Schole LLP 150 E 42nd Street, 11th Floor New York NEW YORK 10017(APPLICANT) Yoshi Hill INDIVIDUAL UNITED STATES c/o Ellenoff Grossman & Schole LLP 150 E 42nd Street, 11th Fl New York NEW YORK 10017
Attorney of Record Jennifer D. Silverman
Type of Mark TRADEMARK
Register PRINCIPAL
Live/Dead Indicator LIVE

If Lin has not authorized (or is not behind this filing), there's a good chance that it will be denied (much like the fight that is brewing over the various Tim Tebow filings that I just wrote about). Also, given the controversy surrounding “Yellow Mamba," it would not surprise me if Lin steps in to cancel out what he may view as an unseemly nickname.

Given that the filing just took place on February 13 (very early into Lin-sanity), it will take some time for this one to play out.

A second interesting filing is from The Topps Company for the mark, “Tag Up" for “trading cards and stickers." The details of this filing are below.

Word Mark TAG UP
Goods and Services IC 016. US 002 005 022 023 029 037 038 050. G & S: Trading cards and stickers
Standard Characters Claimed
Mark Drawing Code (4) STANDARD CHARACTER MARK
Serial Number 85540817
Filing Date February 13, 2012
Current Filing Basis 1B
Original Filing Basis 1B
Owner (APPLICANT) The Topps Company, Inc. CORPORATION DELAWARE One Whitehall Street New York NEW YORK 10004
Attorney of Record Andrew Baum
Type of Mark TRADEMARK
Register PRINCIPAL
Live/Dead Indicator LIVE

While the bare-bones filing does not go into detail about what the “Tag Up" product would be, since tagging up is a baseball reference, it may very well be a new baseball card line.

This filing is also what is called an “intent to use" filing, which means that Topps most likely will come out with a “Tag Up" product. We'll just have to wait and see what happens in the future.

A third filing that caught my eye is for USA Basketball. This filing hints at upcoming USA Basketball cards. Given the popularity of USA Baseball card products, a matching set for USA Basketball only makes sense.

The USA Basketball filing also prompts two questions. First, which card vendor will issue the product? Second, which USA teams will be represented? USA Basketball encompasses many teams, such as the U17/U16, U19/U18, World University, Pan American, FIBA World Championships and 2012 Olympic teams. Because this is a Summer Olympics year, an Olympic basketball set makes sense. Seeing as how Topps has at least one Olympic set on the way, maybe that's a natural fit. However, there really is a need in the marketplace for cards from younger players. I mean, I'm a huge Illini fan, and although I do not collect basketball cards, I would go out of my way to buy cards of the Illini's standout players, if the players make these teams.

The final filing of interest occurred on Valentine's Day. With love in the air, Panini filed trademark applications for CHROMIUM and PANINI CHROMIUM. One of those filings is below:

Word Mark CHROMIUM
Goods and Services IC 016. US 002 005 022 023 029 037 038 050. G & S: Sports trading cards; Trading cards
Standard Characters Claimed
Mark Drawing Code (4) STANDARD CHARACTER MARK
Serial Number 85541865
Filing Date February 14, 2012
Current Filing Basis 1B
Original Filing Basis 1B
Owner (APPLICANT) PANINI S.P.A. società per azioni (spa) ITALY Via Emilio Po, 380 I-41100 Modena (MO) ITALY
Attorney of Record Norman H. Zivin
Type of Mark TRADEMARK
Register PRINCIPAL
Live/Dead Indicator LIVE

The CHROMIUM cards will appear in 2011 Limited Baseball. I have a feeling that Topps will not feel the love and may want to file an opposition to these applications with their Chrome and Bowman Chrome registrations.

Why? Not only do Chrome and Chromium sound and look similar, they are similar. While chromium is an element on the periodic table, chrome is basically an electroplated layer of chromium over another metal.

Chemical translation: Remembering that I'm a lawyer and not a chemist, the best way to explain is this way--chrome contains chromium.

Given these similarities, I wouldn't be surprised if Topps takes a more aggressive stance and actually files a trademark infringement action too (maybe even seeking a preliminary injunction).

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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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