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MLB Properties Files Suit Against Upper Deck for Using Trademarks Without a License PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Maury Brown   
Monday, 01 February 2010 21:56
Upper Deck Ultimate Collection Example
MLB Properties has filed a lawsuit against
Upper Deck for producing cards with trade-
marks on the uniform of players. MLBP
and the Topps Co. have an exclusive
agreement where Topps is the Official
Baseball Card of Major League Baseball.

Major League Baseball Properties (MLBP) has filed suit against Upper Deck Co. Inc. claiming that the trading card company is selling products with MLB trademarks on them without a license.

According the filing, MLB Properties is seeking unspecified damages.

MLBP and the Topps Co. announced an exclusive multi-year licensing deal in August of last year to make Topps the Official Baseball Card of Major League Baseball. Topps entered the exclusivity deal on January 1st of 2010. Shortly thereafter Upper Deck reaffirmed their July 2, 2009 agreement with the MLB Players Association (MLBPA) for the upcoming 2010 season.

At issue are two sets of cards – Ultimate Collection and Signature Stars – produced by Upper Deck that have removed MLB logos and trademarks from the cards, but not from the uniforms of the players.

Reached for comment, Matt Bourne, a spokesperson for Major League Baseball outlined baseball’s position.

"We are surprised and disappointed that Upper Deck, a former partner of ours, would violate our contract by clearly using our intellectual property without our permission,” Bourne said. “We will vigorously use all legal means to protect the intellectual property of Major League Baseball and its member Clubs."

According to The Beckett Blog, Upper Deck sent letters to their distributors in response to an MLBP letter asking those distributors not to sell the product in question.

“Although MLBP contends in its letter that Upper Deck may not lawfully use images of professional baseball players in uniform, there is absolutely no law to support this position,” said Upper Deck in its letter, which also tells distributors that it has “reached out to MLBP” and offered to meet next week on the subject.

The letter then continues by saying, “If we cannot do so, then the issue will be resolved in court.”

Maury BrownMaury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is available for hire or freelance. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.

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