Law of Cards: Trademark Battle Looming Between Upper Deck and Cleveland Indians?

Law of Cards: Trademark Battle Looming Between Upper Deck and Cleveland Indians?

Back in 2007, Upper Deck filed a trademark application for the word TRIBE, basically, for use with trading cards. UD's TRIBE application bounced around the Trademark Office for six years, until just recently when it was approved and then published in July 2013.

Well, UD's drawn-out process to obtain this mark is going to stretch on longer, because on August 15, the Cleveland Indians filed a request for an extension of time to oppose the mark.

Legal translation: "We're likely going to oppose this, but we want to think about it some more. And maybe reach out to UD to see if they'll just drop it so we don't need to spend money litigating this."

Given that the Indians are known as the Tribe and also have a registered trademark for TRIBE (which dates back to an alleged first use in 1917), a potential opposition by the Indians is not a real shocker.

The Indians now have until November 13 to file an opposition. While Upper Deck and Cleveland's marks do not technically overlap (the Indians' trademark is more focused on "entertainment services" rather than products like trading cards), the Indians are a deep pocket, and it's unclear that the Tribe trademark is important enough for Upper Deck to spend a lot of time and money to try and beat them.

Given this, I suspect Upper Deck will drop its TRIBE application prior to the 13th.

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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. How the heck are they granted a trademark that is already being used? Even if a different way wouldn’t somebody at the trademark office think this may cause some friction and just deny the application.

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