On Friday, Major League Baseball Properties promised to unleash its lawyers on Upper Deck over the company’s latest baseball card issues.
Monday, they did.
Major League Baseball is suing Upper Deck Company, accusing the baseball card maker of trademark infringement for using team logos without a license.
Last week, Upper Deck released its "Signature Stars" and "Ultimate Collection" issues, drawing fire from MLB Properties, which had signed an exclusive licensing deal with Topps beginning with this year’s products.
Upper Deck maintains its license with the MLB Players Association, but does not retain an MLB license.
Images of the two just-released products show a number of cards that carry partial or complete team logos on caps and uniforms. The cards identify players only with cities rather than the nicknames and the packaging indicates they are not a licensed MLB product. However, the use of the trademarked logos is vigorously protected by the sport.
Filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, the suit claims Upper Deck blatantly ignored the deal MLB put in place with Topps, which states that Topps has the sole right to use team and league trademarks including logos.
The suit also claims that Upper Deck has plans to distribute more 2010 baseball cards that are similarly unauthorized.
Part of the suit states that "Upper Deck’s current conduct is reflective of a pattern of utter disrespect for the contractual and intellectual property rights of those from whom it licenses valuable trademarks."
The suit also claims that Upper Deck owes Baseball more than $2.4 million.
Major League Baseball is hoping to stop Upper Deck from releasing any more of the cards plus damages.
It’s the latest trading card battle to play out in court. Last year, Topps accused Upper Deck of stealing designs it had used in the 1970s but the two sides settled out of court.
MLB also sued Donruss (now Panini) for trademark infringement last year after the company produced cards it deemed had also violated contractual agreements with Topps and Upper Deck.