Donruss/Playoff has responded to the Major League Baseball Players’ Association lawsuit over its baseball card lines.
Donruss has filed its answer to the trademark infringement lawsuit brought by MLBP in January.
In a six-page document filed in U.S. District Court and obtained by Sports Collectors Daily, the Texas-based company claimed its use of images on Donruss Threads, Playoff Prime Cuts IV and Americana Sports Legends fall under fair use laws and aren’t subject to trademark issues.
Donruss is asking for the complaint to be dismissed, but also requesting a jury trial.
MLBP claims Donruss is using photographs which include player uniforms and logos that are trademarked to its licensees. They filed suit on January 21, seeking damages equal to three times the amount of Donruss’ profits or MLBP’s damages, whichever is greater, punitive damages and recovery of its attorneys fees. They’re also asking Donruss to destroy any remaining product and promotional materials.
The Donruss response states that the suit "fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted to MLBP against Donruss" and that "Donruss is and has been duly licensed to the extent necessary to sell its trading card sets".
After MLB cut Donruss from its licensing agreement prior to the 2006 card releases, the company stayed out of the market for a year, but returned with baseball-related products in 2007 and then added the three in question late last year.
The lawsuit cited falling revenues as the reason it cut its licensee roster and stated that "the trading card market is saturated and any new entrant would diminish the value of the entire market for MLBP."
MLBP states that it became aware of Donruss’ plans to release its "Threads" series on August 21 of last year and asked them to stop the project. Donruss did not, and MLBP says its "efforts to resolve the dispute amicably have failed".