A federal judge has denied Upper Deck’s request to divide Major League Baseball’s legal action into two parts.
A federal judge has denied Upper Deck’s request to split the upcoming trial with Major League Baseball into separate liability and damages phases.
Last week, Upper Deck had moved to bifurcate while MLB Properties expressed its opposition to such a move. On Tuesday, the judge sided with MLB.
Upper Deck’s first three baseball releases of 2010 are at issue in the trademark infringement case. MLBP claims Upper Deck is using team logos on several of the pictures that make up its cards without permission. Upper Deck claims its use of the photos is protected by the First Amendment.
In a nine-page memorandum in opposition to bifurcation last week, MLBP said that "putting off the trademark/unfair competition-related damages phase of the litigation until after liability is adjudicated increases the likelihood that Upper Deck would seek bankruptcy protection or go out of business altogether during the interim period between trials."
Upper Deck had claimed that damages issues would be moot if they were found not liable in the case and that preparing for such a phase could potentially be unnecessary.
A single, consolidated trail, scheduled to begin April 19, will go on as scheduled. Estimates are that the case could last up to five days.
As part of the agreement to the Court’s proposal for a consolidated preliminary injunction hearing and full trial, MLBP promised not to add Upper Deck’s distributors as defendants while Upper Deck promised not to release its Series 2 set until the conclusion of the trial.