Topps sues Upper Deck

10 06 2008

The news:

Topps Co., the baseball-card maker taken private last year, sued competitor Upper Deck Co., accusing it of wrongfully using the names and images of Lou Gehrig, Jackie Robinson, and six other baseball legends.

Upper Deck, based in Carlsbad, Calif., is planning a line of “Legendary Cuts” baseball cards featuring the late Hall of Fame players, whose name and image rights are licensed by Topps, the New York-based company said yesterday in a trademark-infringement suit in federal court in Indianapolis.

I’m sure those Upper Deck cards were in production before March when Topps signed their exclusive deal, but I’m also pretty sure that doesn’t matter in this case.

Legendary Cuts is (was) scheduled for a June release, so it will be interesting to see if this lawsuit delays it’s release. A search of the checklist for the names listed in the article shows this will impact 101 cards from the set (including parallels), Perhaps two of the nice cards would be from the “Quad Legendary Cuts” set, one featuring Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Bob Meusel and Tony Lazzeri, the other featuring Rogers Hornsby, Honus Wagner, Lou Boudreau, and Charlie Gehringer.

I’m not going to be getting this product, so this won’t affect me. But those do sound like some sweet pulls that Topps is trying to block, and I can’t help but think that dragging down Upper Deck isn’t going to make Topps look any better. Of course, neither is letting Upper Deck walk over Topps new deal.

Overall, I don’t see any real positives for the hobby out of this, unless Topps invests court winnings in design and photography upgrades, and there’s no way to know if that will be the case. And I don’t care much for companies signing players to exclusive contracts anyway, as it limits what collectors can pull from products. Would I like to pull a Ken Griffey Jr auto or patch? Sure would. Am I going to buy Upper Deck boxes based on the fact that they are the only company to have them? Not by a long shot.

And a Jackie Robinson/Ken Griffey Jr dual auto card? Impossible now.

So we’ll have to watch what happens. I’m sure Upper Deck will comb the hoppers to remove these cards if necessary. And we’ve seen in the past how well that works, right Hillary?

*UPDATED* See the 6-11 post.

*UPDATED* More here, here, and here.

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