Typically, the start of April would have fans and collectors counting down to Opening Day. This season however, fans and collectors will also be paying close attention to Major League Baseball Properties’ lawsuit against Upper Deck, which will hit the courtroom soon after the players take the field for the start of regular season play.
MLBP’s lawsuit against the card maker for alleged trademark infringements in three recently released baseball card sets (2009 Ultimate Collection and 2009 Signature Stars Baseball and 2010 UD Series 1 Baseball) is csheduled to get underway on April 19 according to a release issued by MLB’s Vice President of Business Public Relations, Matt Bourne.
“We are pleased that the Judge has expedited this case with the combined preliminary injunction hearing and trial beginning on April 19. This signals that the Judge has taken our concerns about Upper Deck’s distribution of unauthorized cards very seriously. We are determined to put an end to Upper Deck’s unlawful use of our intellectual property which is causing confusion among consumers. It is unfortunate that Upper Deck refused to give anyone involved the customary opportunity to review their product before distribution, because this situation could have been avoided altogether. We remain confident that the Court will rule in our favor and protect our rights and those of our Clubs.”
MLB Properties initially filed the suit on Feb. 1, alleging that Upper Deck violated trademark infringements by releasing 2009 Ultimate Collection and 2009 Signature Stars Baseball sets after the expiration of its licensing contract with the league. After the suit was filed with the New York Federal Court, sales of the products ceased by distributors but has since resumed until a further ruling can be determined.
The sets in question come with a disclaimer "Not authorized by Major League Baseball or its Member teams’ and the cards do not use MLB team logos or names as part of the designs, but the suit was filed because the players images are displayed with visable team logos, which have only been allowed by MLBP licensing partners in the past.