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Trademarks and Baseball Cards

For any fellow baseball card collecting IP attorneys out there, it has been an exciting year due to a recent legal dispute between card manufacturer Upper Deck and Major League (Baseball) Properties.

In short, the dispute at hand arises from Upper Deck’s printing and distribution of baseball cards showing players photographed in their MLB uniforms, absent any license from MLB Properties to do so. Upper Deck does have a license to use players’ likenesses from the MLB Player’s Association, and it does not use MLB trademarks other than display of action photographs from MLB games.

A host of interesting trademark issues are raised by the dispute, and certainly both parties have a great deal to lose or gain with the results of the suit. Beckett Magazine, a popular collector’s publication, has been closely following the case: Commentary: MLB Properties vs. Upper Deck—Why Just Topps? Beckett has also published some of my commentary on the case, and I’ll likely be working on something a bit more in depth as well. For those wishing to view court documents directly, Justia is hosting most of them.