Upper Deck lost its Major League Baseball trading card license, but apparently not its nerve. Their first two baseball issues of the new year have the lawyers on speed dial.
Upper Deck released two baseball card products this week, both of which include clearly visible team logos on a number of player photos in the set.
Ultimate Collection and Signature Stars began hitting store shelves and online outlets late this week, labeled as 2009 products and containing disclaimers that the products were not associated with Major League Baseball. However, Upper Deck would appear to disagree with those who believe Topps is the only company allowed to use team logos.
The appearances of the cards in the two Upper Deck products did not sit well with Major League Baseball Properties, which maintains that the exclusive license it granted Topps last year means no other company can utilize MLB trademarks. After seeing images of the Upper Deck cards, MLBP made its feelings known.
"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," said MLB Properties’ Matt Bourne in a written statement to Sports Collectors Daily.
Upper Deck does have a licensing agreement with the Major League Baseball Players Association, which grants it the right to utilize player images. The MLBPA does not control the teams’ logos, color schemes or other trademarks associated with the clubs themselves.
Bourne indicated that MLB would seek legal action against Upper Deck, in much the same manner as it did against Donruss over that company’s Elite Extra product last year. That case was settled before going to trial.
"We will vigorously use all legal means to protect the intellectual property of Major League Baseball and its member Clubs," Bourne stated.