Law of Cards: Topps Files Petition to Cancel USA Football Mark

Law of Cards: Topps Files Petition to Cancel USA Football Mark

When Topps released its Huddle fantasy football app in 2012, it protected its product by also filing trademark applications for HUDDLE and TOPPS HUDDLE. The Trademark Office, however, recently rejected these applications because USA Football already owns a trademark registration for HUDDLE.

To combat this, and secure its trademark rights, Topps filed a cancellation action with the Trademark Office to knock out USA Football's HUDDLE mark. The reason? Topps alleges that USA Football no longer uses the HUDDLE mark, so it's been abandoned.

Legal translation: You cannot hoard a trademark indefinitely unless you are using it in commerce.  If you come up with a great name for a product, and do nothing with it, sorry, you don't get rights to it. And once you've abandoned the rights, others are free to use the name.

I'd describe Topps' action as trying to clear away detritus. If USA Football isn't utilizing the mark any more, it's abandoned, and therefore dead. A cancellation then is a fast and inexpensive way to remove HUDDLE from the trademark registry.

Topps' opposition is bare bones, so we can't glean many facts. But, if you perform a search for "USA Football" and "Huddle" in your favorite search engine, you're not likely to find results showing trademark use. I suspect then that USA Football is no longer using HUDDLE. If so, this will be a short-lived action.

But we won't really know more until/if USA Football answers.

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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