Law of Cards: Are Gift Cards the Next Trading Cards?

Law of Cards: Are Gift Cards the Next Trading Cards?

Earlier in May, U.S. Patent No. 8,186,599 was issued entitled "Collectable Gift Cards." The patent is based on a patent application filed in October, 2007.

Yep, five years. That's a fast moving patent office for you.

To give you an idea of what the patent covers, here's Claim 1:

1. A collectable gift card having a primary cash value and a secondary non-cash value comprising: a writable and readable non-volatile memory for receiving, maintaining and dispersing said cash value; a unique identification number; said secondary value comprising a printed image on a front side of said card; whereby said printed image is an authentic playing piece in one of a board game, parlor game, or a card game; whereby said printed image is one of a selection of multiple sub-images; and whereby a collection of all the sub-images renders a certain whole image.

Legal translation: It’s a gift card that can double as a game or puzzle piece. When fit together with other gift cards, they make a picture.

Seriously, did the patent attorneys really need that many words to say that?

The patent's figures also do a good job showing how the invention of Claim 1 works, including puzzle-piece-shaped trading cards.

Gift Card Patent Family Guy Image Gift Card Patent 2 Image

I can also confidently say this is the only patent that stars the cast of Family Guy.

Legal translation: I guess this patent itself then is collectible.

Within the patent, the inventor describes the motivation behind his invention:

[G]ift cards are still only as valuable as the monetary amount placed on them. As soon as the monetary value has been depleted the cards are thrown out by the consumer or retailer or recycled by the retailer or manufacturer.

Because of this, the inventor wants to create "a secondary value to the card such as making the gift cards collectible items that outlive their usefulness of storing monetary value amounts."

Now, the inventor's goal (a collectible gift card) is broader than Claim 1 (a puzzle game piece), but his ultimate goal may be realized soon.

Like, did you know that Topps bought a gift card company?

I'm not saying that collectible gift cards are the future of trading cards, although I can say I do have quite a few gift card carcasses lying around my house (And wallet. And car), so if someone can find a way to cut down on such clutter, it may have a market.

And why stop with collectible gift cards? Why not make hotel key cards collectible too? I have hundreds of those. And parking garage passes? And security swipe cards that get you into office buildings?

OK, that's probably going to far.

But, wouldn't it be fun to bust a pack of Bowman Chrome and find a Bryce Harper gift card with $20 of actual value on it, too? Now that's a collectible gift card!

Click here to read the full patent document.

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+.

User Comments

  1. It reminds me of the mid 90′s when they attempted to market phone cards as the next hot collectible. That never took off and in today’s world of cell phones, phone cards altogether are a thing of the past, let alone a collectible.

  2. Isn’t this a trademark violation to have the Family Guy images in a patent?

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