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Law of Cards: War for the Rally Squirrel Breaks Out

Law of Cards: War for the Rally Squirrel Breaks Out

During the holiday season, everyone was nice to each other and thankful that the Mayan gods did not destroy the world. Despite all of these tidings of peace on Earth, a war officially broke out between the St. Louis Cardinals and a company called PBR Industries. This war is not over land (or anything most people would consider important). Rather, it's over a piece of intellectual property allegedly prized by both companies: the Rally Squirrel.

While there was saber rattling on this issue this summer, it laid dormant for months. But on December 27, the Cardinals launched a late Christmas present at PBR -- an opposition action to wipe PBR's "RALLY SQUIRREL" trademark application from existence.

It's technically the Birds vs. the Rally Squirrel.

For a quick recap (since you've likely intentionally forgotten), during a 2011 MLB playoff game between the Cardinals and the Phillies, a squirrel darted across home plate while Skip Schumacher was at bat. The squirrel was anointed the "Rally Squirrel," and inexplicably became a sensation with Cardinals fans, the team and the media.

Rally Squirrel mania was so contagious it also inspired trading cards that notably lacked the phrase "Rally Squirrel."

Law of Cards: War for the Rally Squirrel Breaks Out 1

Legal translation: Give it up to Topps for spotting what could be a litigious issue.

The Rally Squirrel mania inspired a company called PBR Industries to file a trademark application for the phrase "Rally Squirrel," although it did not appear that company had any connection to the St. Louis Cardinals. This filing did not make the Cardinals happy and led to its December 27 notice of opposition.

In this document, the Cardinals allege that with its Rally Squirrel application, PBR "was attempting to trade on the valuable goodwill of and its remarkable 2011 season and WORLD SERIES victory."

Legal translation: They're trying to get a free ride on our mark.

This should be a short-lived action. I can't imagine that PBR will be able to show that the phrase RALLY SQUIRREL conjures up images of PBR rather than the Cardinals (which is technically what it would need to do to win). But you never know. It could inspire a Pixar film, War for the Rally Squirrel.

PBR technically has until February 5, 2013, to provide its side of the case, but these dates are always extended. However, it wouldn't shock me if this case wrapped up by then.

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.

Law of Cards: War for the Rally Squirrel Breaks Out 2Making purchases through affiliate links can earn the site a commission
Paul Lesko has litigated complex and intellectual property actions for over 18 years. 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 card collector. He's also the author of the novel Gastric Bypass, available for purchase at Amazon. Paul can be found on Twitter @Paul_Lesko and Google+.

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