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NFLPA Tackles Upper Deck with Yet Another Lawsuit

NFLPA Tackles Upper Deck with Yet Another Lawsuit

With so many people at the Industry Summit this past week, I assumed nothing could happen legally in the hobby. Right?


As reported by Courthouse News, on March 16, Upper Deck found itself on the receiving end of yet another lawsuit. This time by the NFLPA. As the NFLPA's complaint states:

This is a straight-forward case of serial breaches of contracts by Defendant Upper Deck Company, LLC. Specifically, this lawsuit arises out of Upper Deck's admitted failure to make scores of payments owned to Plaintiffs National Football League Players Association and National Football League Players Incorporated under two License Agreements, two Service Agreements, and hundreds of Players Agreements executed between the parties.

The complaint also states why the NFLPA brought this suit:

Considering Upper Deck's recent history of flouting its legal obligations to its licensors, including, upon information and belief, admitted counterfeiting...and millions of dollars in outstanding payments to other licensors, Plaintiffs gave up hope that Upper Deck would honor its contractual commitments and filed this lawsuit.

The plaintiffs are seeking almost $1.5 million in damages in the 235-count, 287-page complaint.

The complaint is also a gold mine of information about the trading card industry, including how much some players (through the NFL Players Incorporated) were paid to autograph cards like Tony Romo ($180,000 in Count 228) and Tim Tebow ($84,000 in Count 222).

Upper Deck is now facing lawsuits from two leagues. Less than a month ago, Major League Baseball also filed suit against Upper Deck for breach of contract.

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.

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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+.

User Comments


Why is UD still in business? MLB and NFL are both suing them. No future licenses from them EVER again. They don’t pay the players when they sign for them. They laid off 1/2 their staff. They implemented a policy which everyone hates. Their leader is a drunk apparently. Who is funding this?

Rob B
Rob B

I can’t believe they are still hangin in there…with all the lawsuits I thought for sure they would have stopped production by now…I can’t see them surviving much longer with all the legal fees they must be paying…

Greg A
Greg A

Now I’m just curious as to what the “contractually agreed upon rate per autograph” for the players were. Would be fascinating to see how much the NFLPI values Tebows autograph or Romos etc.

Don Gretre
Don Gretre

This is small potatoes, when you are the big dog expect ridiculous lawsuits. Expect more great UD products in the future, if not be ready to be bombarded with even more garbage from Panini, Topps and ITG.

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