For the third time in six months, Panini America has filed a lawsuit, this time charging trademark infringement against a Pennsylvania man.
Attorneys for the Dallas-based company filed a federal lawsuit Friday against Jamie Nucero. In addition to trademark infringement, Panini is seeking damages and injunctive relief.
The litigation is the latest chapter in Panini’s quest to protect its “Rated Rookie” trademark, particularly for up-and-coming NBA stars like Zion Williamson. Panini also alleges in the civil complaint that other trademarks, such as “Rookie Ticket,” “Contenders” and similar variants, were being infringed by Nucero.
The lawsuit. filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, contains exhibits detailing emails between Nucero and Shad Wing, who Panini attorneys allege is a previous customer, discussing Williamson cards, among others, in an exchange of emails earlier this year.
“This one is a doozie,” attorney and collector Paul Lesko tweeted about the lawsuit Monday afternoon.
The first lawsuit, in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, was filed in June 2019 against an entity billing itself as Kollectorsvault. Two months ago, Panini sued Wing, of Kansas City, Missouri, in U.S. District Court for the District of Western Missouri, alleging trademark infringement, unfair competition and deceptive trade practices.
Friday’s lawsuit notes that Nucero markets and sells — among other things — sports trading cards through online sites such as eBay, where he uses the handle, “nukero.”
The lawsuit alleges Nucero emailed Wing on April 6, 2019, to give him advice “about how to cheat eBay” by providing fake feedback. In another email, dated May 14, 2019, Nucero allegedly told Wing how to sell “bad” cards.
The suit also alleges Nucero sold products to Wing using the Panini trademarks that were not authentic Panini products, “without any right to do so.”
Panini alleges in the lawsuit that Nucero serves as a supplier and/or seller of trading cards with infringing marks, selling the cards to various people who then resell them on different online platforms and channels. The infringing marks, the suit alleges, are identical to, or substantially identical to, or “otherwise confusingly similar” to Panini’s trademarks.
Two exhibits detail emails between Wing and “Jay Longo,” who Panini’s attorneys claim is Nucero.
“(It) will be interesting to see where this lawsuit goes, as it appears Nucero was Wing’s supplier, and Panini is getting closer to the print shop making these cards,” Lesko tweeted Monday.
In its latest complaint, Panini alleges this is not the first time Nucero had dealt with questionable cards. According to the lawsuit, Nucero was involved in previous litigation concerning fake rookie cards on eBay and made as much as $10,000.
Nucero pleaded guilty to mail fraud in that August 2008 case, according to Sports Collectors Daily and the Times-Tribune of Scranton, Pennsylvania.
In the lawsuit filed Friday, Panini said that a consequence of Nucero’s use of the infringement marks will cause potential buyers to be “confused, misled, and deceived” by the similarity to the actual Panini trademarks.
“Such persons who are seeking the Panini sports trading card product line will be mistakenly led to deal with the defendant,” the complaint read.