3 January 2020TrademarksRory O'Neill

Panini cracks down on unauthorised basketball cards

The US subsidiary of Italian sticker and trading card brand Panini is suing the owner of an online enterprise, which it says is selling counterfeits of its “Rated Rookie” series.

In the suit, filed at the US District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on December 24, Panini accused Pennsylvania resident Rocco Tenaglia of distributing cards bearing the “Rated Rookie” sign on eBay.

Panini America owns US trademarks for both the phrase “Rated Rookie” and a logo for the brand.

According to Panini, consumers were likely to directly confuse the cards offered by Tenaglia with its own signature brand.

The cards in question feature basketball player Zion Williamson, who plays for National Basketball Association (NBA) team the New Orleans Pelicans.

The suit against Tenaglia was the fourth trademark suit filed by Panini last year in relation to counterfeit trading cards featuring Williamson.

Paul Lesko, of counsel at Peiffer Wolf Carr & Kane, said on Twitter that the series of suits may be related to Panini’s licensing deal with the NBA player.

Lesko said he suspected the contract “might have a requirement to more aggressively police alleged Williamson infringers”.

Panini is seeking a permanent injunction preventing unlicensed use of its trademarks, and an award of all of Tenaglia’s profits from the allegedly infringing activity.

Previous defendants include online enterprise Kollectorsvault, who were named in a suit at the US District Court for the Northern District of California in June.

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