Topps says Upper Deck’s upcoming Legendary Cuts product includes the names and images of deceased Hall of Famers it no longer has the right to use.
Topps management wanted no part of Upper Deck when the California suitor came calling about a buyout last year. Now, things have taken another bitter turn with the filing of a lawsuit over a trademark issue.
According to news reports, Topps and CMG Worldwide filed suit in U.S. Federal court Monday, accusing Upper Deck of trademark infringement.
Topps claims ownership of the rights to eight players Upper Deck is using in its 2008 Legendary Cuts edition. Pictures and cut autographs of Jackie Robinson, Lou Gehrig, Mel Ott, Jimmie Foxx, Thurman Munson, Rogers Hornsby, George Sisler and Johnny Mize are in the Upper Deck issue, but Topps claims it owns the exclusive rights to publish cards of those players under a recently signed agreement with a company representing the players’ estates.
In April, Topps signed an exclusive deal with CMG Worldwide giving the New York-based trading card maker the rights to produce cards featuring a total of sixteen deceased players. The deal lasts through 2010 and includes exclusivity on trading cards – including game-used memorabilia cards and all other inserts.
CMG Worldwide represents the families and estates of deceased celebrities. The firm negotiated with both companies before signing its deal with Topps.
In the lawsuit, Topps seeks unspecified monetary damages and is asking the Indianapolis-based court to issue an order stopping production of the cards in question.
According to the legal papers, Topps states that Upper Deck "continues to knowingly, intentionally, willfully and maliciously infringe upon the exclusive rights purchased by Topps".