Law of Cards: Cubs Attorneys Getting Ready for October

Law of Cards: Cubs Attorneys Getting Ready for October

Not only are the Cubs and its fans getting ready for the MLB postseason, so are its attorneys.

Yesterday, September 22, Major League Baseball and the Cubs brought a lawsuit for trademark infringement, counterfeiting, copyright infringement and a slew of other intellectual property claims against a number of sellers of alleged infringing Cubs gear. The twist, this suit heavily focuses on vendors who sell the allegedly infringing wares outside of Wrigley Field during Cubs games.

Heck, the attorneys that drafted the complaint also included pictures of the vendors themselves, some holding the infringing wares. For example, from Paragraph 48 of the complaint:

Accused vendor - 1

The attorneys here moved fast too; most of the photos of the defendant vendors were taken last week.

While some of the alleged infringing works look like copies of Cubs logos and trademarks (which will be problematic for the defendants)…

Accused hats - 2

…some arguably are works that might fall outside of these claims, like the below shirt.

Accused shirt - 3

For those confused on why the above is part of the suit, the complaint takes issue that the shirt has a W (for the Wrigley Field win flag) and a mention of October (which calls to mind the World Series). I think this is an overly broad interpretation of what the Cubs/MLB intellectual property should control (even though the Cubs do have a trademark registration about to issue on a "W" for clothing), and would be fun to litigate…but given the defendants here likely don’t have the deep pockets of the Cubs or MLB, it likely will not be.

Also, while the lawsuit seeks damages from the defendants, it would not shock me if the real goal here is to just shut down these (and other) vendors around Wrigley prior to the playoffs.

Still, the ultimate message of this lawsuit is clear: make anything that arguably looks like the Cubs’ logos or trademarks without a license, and we’ll come for you.

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 and the user. Neither the transmission nor receipt of these website materials will create an attorney-client relationship between the author and the readers.

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

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Paul Lesko has litigated intellectual property for over 15 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 baseball card collector. Paul can be found on Twitter @Paul_Lesko and Google+.

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