Law of Cards: Upper Deck v. Upper Deck Is Over!

Law of Cards: Upper Deck v. Upper Deck Is Over!

In my article the other day about Panini and Leaf resolving their legal issues, I jokingly commented "And with that, there was peace across the land..."

Well, more peace just came across the land. Last week, the Upper Deck v. Upper Deck parties filed a document which informs the court that, "the parties have reached a settlement agreement in this matter."

Legal translation: It looks like UD v. UD is over!

No!!

I mean -- congratulations to the Upper Decks on working out their differences.

And also, No!!!

This lawsuit had it all: Counterfeiting. Power struggles. Alleged corporate double dealings. Alleged addictions to prescription drugs and alcohol. Charges of taking advantage of another's incapacitated condition. Heck, there were even accusations of an executive inappropriately touching the breasts of female guests. And it seemed like just about everyone and every company in the trading card universe might make a personal appearance at some point in the lawsuit.

Oh yeah, there were also legal issues! I think.

But now, it's come to an end.

Oh, UD v UD, we had such fun. I'm going to miss you.

Now, the rest of the trading card world needs to step up its game. Sure, there are quite a few lawsuits out there, but none currently have the sexiness of UD v UD. There are, however, three that have promise:

1)      Upper Deck v. Executive: Yes, the Upper Decks provided us the wackiness of UD v UD, so it's only natural to start with other Upper Deck cases. However, the Upper Deck of late has been a kinder, gentler (legal translation: less crazy) litigant. So, we need more than JUST Upper Deck as a party. And this lawsuit might have it. It's a battle over presidential candidate trading cards, which will probably involve the winner taking home about $3,000 in winnings while spending $500,000 to get there. Now, that's ridiculous enough…but, to raise the bar we need more. How about, issuing subpoenas to former presidential and vice-presidential candidates? Or, instead of allowing a jury to decide…let's just make it a race and say the winner is the side that gets Sarah Palin to testify!

2)      J&T Hobby and Pirrozzi v. Upper Deck: Given the cast of individuals identified as potential witnesses in this battle over an exclusive distributor agreement (and the fact one side was already sanctioned), this case has the potential to become the next UD v UD. Still, at its base level, it's just a contract action (although fraud is alleged!)…and contract actions tend to be boring.

3)      Topps v. Panini over the LIMITED trademark: Now that Leaf has dropped out of the battle, it's up to Topps to protect the word LIMITED from falling into the clutches of just one trading card company! For an esoteric battle over whether or not one company can control the word LIMITED on trading cards, this trademark opposition also has the potential to be crazy. Also, it's got two of the heavies in the industry duking it out. However, it is just an opposition and not a true lawsuit…so that takes away some of the luster.

Yeah, I guess you can see, there really isn't a case out there as entertaining as UD v UD.

But, knowing how this industry works, I’m sure it won’t be long until another lawsuit comes along to top UD v UD. It won’t be easy, but I have faith.

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 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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