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Donruss Responds to MLB's Infringement Suit

Donruss says it's "fair use," Major League Baseball Properties says it's infringement. Where it all ends up for Donruss' baseball cards is still up in the air.
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Attorneys for Donruss deny the card maker has infringed any trademarks of MLB Properties and have asked a judge to dismiss the infringement complaint filed against Donruss Jan. 21.

The original complaint alleged that three Donruss baseball card sets released last year depicted certain retired major leaguers and current minor league players in uniforms that feature visible and identifiable logos that are trademarks of MLB Properties. The suit also alleged the inclusion of current minor league players violates those players’ rights of publicity, which are controlled by MLB Properties.

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In addition to trademark infringement, MLB alleged Donruss was guilty of unfair competition and a breach of contract, saying the terms of Donruss’ previous licensing agreement with MLB Properties prohibited the company from ever producing any products featuring MLB trademarks without written consent, even after the licensing agreement had expired.

In its response, filed last Friday, Donruss said it has been “duly licensed to the extent necessary” to sell the products in question and says any use of MLBP trademarks in those products fall under the “nominative fair use” guidelines, meaning it can use just enough of the trademarks necessary to identify the players without suggesting a sponsorship or endorsement of the cards by MLB Properties.

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