Law of Cards: Fraud Charges Filed Against Upper Deck by Distributor

Law of Cards: Fraud Charges Filed Against Upper Deck by Distributor

On August 31, Upper Deck found itself in another lawsuit. This time, Joseph Pirozzi and J&T Hobby claim that UD fraudulently violated a distribution agreement that J&T and UD shared for over 15 years.

It appears that sometime in 1994, UD and J&T entered into a distribution agreement where UD would manufacture and sell trading cards to J&T. J&T would then distribute the cards throughout the United States.

Allegedly between 2005 and 2009, J&T heard rumors that UD was utilizing other vendors (and/or acquiring other vendors) to distribute UD products in violation of the agreement. Since these rumored vendors would compete with J&T (and allegedly cause a breach of the agreement), the company confronted UD about these rumors.

UD denied they were true.

In its filing, J&T contends UD's representations were knowingly false and that UD not only knew about these vendors but they also had a part in operating and/or owning them.

Interestingly, Richard McWilliam and "Does 1 through 100" were also named as defendants. The complaint alleges that the named defendants and the Does are "completely owned, controlled, dominated, used, managed and operated by and on behalf of one or more of the remaining defendants and intermingled their assets and identities to such an extent that they are the alter egos of said Defendants, are one and the same entity and are a mere shell by which the remaining defendants conduct business."

Legal translation: That's a lot of words to say, "Whatever name they go by, they should all be thought of as the same company or person." Basically, they are all part of the same alleged corporate shell game.

The complaint is bare-bones, so we don't know what the Agreement states or what alleged evidence of wrongdoing there is or who Does 1-100 could be. But don't worry. If the case does not settle quickly, we will get UD's side of the story when it files its answer in the very near future.

Here is a copy of the complaint.

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Paul Lesko is a shareholder at Simmons Browder Gianaris Angelides and Barnerd LLC 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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