Property Keyed to Saxer
Cardtoons v. Major League Baseball Players Association
Cardtoons, L.C. (Plaintiff), an Oklahoma corporation, produced baseball trading cards that parodied major league players. The cards featured animated caricatures of active players on the front and humorous commentary on the back. A person familiar with baseball could readily identify the player lampooned on the trading card. For example, a trading card parodying San Francisco Giants player Barry Bonds was named “Treasury Bonds,” and a card featuring the likeness of Ken Griffey, Jr., was called “Ken Sniffy, Jr.” After the trading cards were advertised for sale, the Major League Baseball Players Association (Defendant), the exclusive agent for all active players, ordered Plaintiff and its printer to halt production of the cards. Defendant also operated a group licensing program whereby it entered into licensing arrangements with various companies and vendors, collected any profits, and distributed revenues to individual players. There was no agreement between Plaintiff and Defendant. Plaintiff sued Defendant and sought a declaratory judgment that it was authorized to produce the parody trading cards without the consent of Defendant. The district court held for Plaintiff and Defendant appealed.
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