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Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Upper Deck Lawsuit for Dummies (including myself)

Gellman at SCU has been posting about the lawsuit and today stated that he might have been an alarmist about the whole thing. UD sure is pushing the envelope here and Gellman is right, they may be in some deep crapola.

Here is the injunction brief by Upper Deck.

I'm going to try and make this as simple as I can. I'm not a copyright lawyer but some general concepts apply. Basically, any logos in the pictures of the cards are incidental to the product.

Accounts of the game:

You know that language at the end of or during the game that goes : "Any rebroadcast, retransmission, or account of this game, without the express written consent of MLB" Yeah. well Major League Baseball is full of shit on that one. Rebroadcast yes, Retransmission yes, accounts of the game? An emphatic NO!

It's called news people. Newspapers, news broadcasts can certainly talk about what happened in the game. I don't know why MLB even puts that in there. Some dumbass lawyer that thought it sounded good probably. So accounts of the game are fair game unless you appropriate someone else's account as your own then you have a problem.

What about the statistics?
The quick answer is no. Statistics are facts and are thus not copyrightable (subject to copyright) if that is even a word.

So far we have a card with statistics on it.

What about the players names and using them to make cash?

Upper Decks got that covered Y'all! Some smart lawyer figured out that MLBPA was the key. The player through MLBPA is allowing their likeness to be used. UD might still be ok without the MLBPA, but their fight is much easier with the rights they secured.

So now we have a card with stats, accounts of a game and the player's picture.

What about players in their uniforms with logos showing? Now we are to the meat of the issue. This is the only real issue in the case as all of the other bases are covered.

To simplify this I am going to call this the Newspaper defense. Assuming UD secured the rights to the photograph, there is no difference in what UD is doing to what a newspaper does. UD is "reporting" what the player's statistics were for the past year and the previous years. Just like a newspaper, UD is selling their reporting for money. Sometimes they include autographs and pieces of jerseys and such on their "reports". There are no logos on the cards other than what are contained in the photos and their use in the photos is incidental.

UD could probably use the names of the teams on their cards as well. It is a fact that Manny Ramirez plays for the Los Angeles Dodgers. There is no logo being used to show that the cards are endorsed by MLB.

That's the next issue is dilution of the copyright, etc. Dilution means to basically reproduce the copyright, trademark so it becomes worthless to the holder. Producing hats with the logo on it would be taking dollars away from MLB who owns that logo. What is the distinction you ask? UD isn't reproducing the logos that are on the uniforms as the centerpiece of the card like they are on a jersey or hat that one would reproduce to sell just like a newspaper that runs a photo of Jeter from the World Series. They aren't selling the logo, just the news that goes along with it. For examples of what MLB has done on this front see here note the main concern was with audio and such, also see here note this is all a discussion about how the pictures can be used on the internet and other things and not in newspapers.

The result of the links is that MLB is on shaky ground and realizes that they can only enforce certain limitations through contract and not copyright law. That's my point, there is no copyright violation here because of the way UD went about this. They are no different than a newspaper to a degree and if MLB thinks they can keep newspapers from posting things on the internet, they are dead ass wrong. Bloggers just haven't had the money to fight Selig and his money grubbing cronies.

Plus UD has tried to make sure their is no confusion and that's why blog articles were used. Everyone at this point, or at least anyone that has half a brain and pays attention, knows taht UD lost thier license and have plastered it on their packaging, thus there is no confusion or at least there shouldn't be.

The above is surely not a legal treatise but hopefully it gives you an idea as to what arguments can be made. With the backlash that has come to the RIAA over copyright infringement and being as heavy handed about enforcement as they are I would suspect there are many judges that wouldn't think twice about dismissing the suit. And, DMCA RIAA is much clearer than in this situation.

36 comments:

Grand Cards said...

Cards=Newspapers? No way. I see what you're trying to get at, but I'm not buying it. Newspapers (and photographs in them) would be subject to the same copyright infringement rules as everyone else, except that mountains of case law tells us that newspapers are exempt because what they produce is in the public interest. UD is not selling the news. They are selling memorabilia, or collectibles, or baseball cards, but not news. There is absolutely nothing that I can see to legitimately argue otherwise.

As for confusion? I wrote extensively about this the other day, and although I too am not a copyright lawyer it appears as though "confusion" to us is not the same as "confusion" in a legal sense, and there are clear-cut ways to test for "confusion" in the market.

That said, UD has a legitimate defense that deserves to be heard in court and it will be interesting to see how it plays out. However, I'm not sure that MLB is the one on shaky ground. That designation goes to UD, IMO.

stusigpi said...

You are taking the newspaper aspect too literally but yes I see your point.

The shaky ground comment is that MLB is trying to enforce odd copyright like things through contract law because there is no other way to do this.

Upper Deck is clearly on shakier ground in this case. That being said, i do expect somewhat of a similar defense to be put forward by Upper Deck in one way or another. Quinn Emanuel is one of the best and let me tell you, if there is a way they will find it.

Grand Cards said...

In this case, aren't they trying to enforce odd copyright like things through...copyright law?

stusigpi said...

They are trying because they have no other way to do it. If you don't see the distinction I can't help you, but if you look at this without being a smartass you can see that MLB is trying to de facto extend the reach of quasi-copyright issues through contractual agreements. I'm not here to debate this with you as UD will most likely lose, but it's not as clear cut as it seems.


Here is what you do, brief the issue, I won't read it or respond and we can agree that if UD ends up losing, no one will care other than that UD lost.

Basically, don't argue with me for the sake of arguing. The purpose was to give people an idea of what arguments UD might make without too much legal speak. Other than that I could have just copied and paste(d) UD's briefs.

Alex said...

Please note that this comes from an Australian legal perspective.

I would have thought that the fact that MLB does not take legal actions against newspapers for using their logos isn't that relevant - it is their choice whether they choose to do so or not. Just because they choose to not take action against newspapers it doesn't give Upper Deck the right to violate their copyright. If Upper Deck does violate MLB's copyright, then MLB has the right to take legal action against them for that regardless of the fact that they didn't take action against the newspapers. The lack of action against the Newspapers by MLB isn't a defence for Upper Deck.

Secondly, though I have dealt with copyright law on a very limited basis I am not a copyright lawyer (I'm actually a labor lawyer) but from an Australian perspective the nature of the use of MLB logos in newspapers and cards are extremely different. While newspapers may use MLB logos in them, they are only an extremely small fraction of the newspaper, are not a big selling point for the paper, and the paper airbrushing out the logos would not impact newspaper sales. Therefore the newspapers use of the MLB logos is not substantial enough to violate MLB's copyright. However, in the case of Upper Deck cards things are very different - the logos on the uniforms are a significant proportion of the card, the logos are a selling point for the cards and airbrushing the cards could have an impact on the cards sales. As such the use of MLB logos is significant enough to violate logos. There was actually a very prominant case decided recently in Australia recently around this issue - how significant the use of a few bars of music from another song was. It was decided that it was significant enought to violate the original song-owners copyright because of how important it was to the song and it's success - even though it was only a few bars.

Again, this is from an Australian perspective and I suspect that things may be different in the US - which I'm sure you will let me know about. But if Upper Deck and MLB were fighting this case in the Australian courts than if I was Upper Deck I would be extremely worried.

Grand Cards said...

Hey man, I wasn't trying to be a dick and I apologize for coming off that way--I'll chalk it up to the end of a long work day.

The point that I was trying to make in my second comment was that it appeared as though MLB was trying to go after UD in a very clear, copyright infringement way and that their case is based on photos being the main component of UD's product and Logos being a central component of the photos, leading to a likelihood of confusion among consumers, which may be the lynchpin of this copyright infringement case. I guess I don't see where the contract law comes into place here.

Again, I wasn't just trying to be a jerk about things and I apologize for coming off that way. I think that this is an excellent post with a great perspective on the issue and that you've provided an awesome service to everyone who reads card blogs or cares about what's going to happen with UD.

John said...

I posted this on sports card uncensored:

The denial of a reverse bifuricated trial, is probably not favorable to Upper Deck.

Upper Deck in their base set went to great lenghts to hide the logos of the players. Why did they not just airbrush the logo that could be seen. There would be no lawsuit.,

The USA Today takes pictures of players in their uniform and shows logos everyday. They don't pay a license.

However, Upper Deck sells cards in packs with a chance at "rare inserts", which goes into the price of their cards.

USA Today sells "news" - What UD sells what amounts to a lottery which contains MLB trademark logos in which they are not authorized to use.

This hurts the consumer. Would you drink FDA approved milk or milk that was not approved by the FDA.

stusigpi said...

The fact that MLB doesn't go after Newspapers is relevant because they can't do it. There is no infringement. That is why MLB has tried to limit newspapers in other ways is because they want the cash but know they can't get it any other way than through contract because there is no infringement.

BTW, in America, one cannot pick and choose who they enforce their copyrights against. Infringement is infringement and if you do not vigerously enforce your rights then you risk losing the ability to do so.

As grand cards noted, cards are not newspapers. That I agree with but the predicate of the photograph is the same. The player is being portrayed and the logos are incidental to that use. I don't need to see the Yankees logo to know that Jeter plays for them.

Upper Deck's point is that they have gone out of their way to not put the logos on the cards because they are incidental to the product, meaning they can live with or without the logo. Its the player that matters, not the logo.

As I stated an an earlier post, Australian and American "fair use" law is very different. Having said that, the logo is not the central theme of the card nor is it important to the card. Once again, its the Player that is, hence the MLBPA license that UD holds.

@grand cards MLB has tried to leverage Topps, UD and others through contract for years. They no longer have that leverage over UD so MLB has no choice but to go after UD through a straight copyright infringement claim. Having said that, MLB was trying to force newspapers into contracts that were for credentials and not for the use of photos and logos in order to leverage the newspaper's use of photos and logos because they had no other way to do it. The breach of contract claim would be much easier to prove then a copyright violation because MLB knows their claims are shaky against the newspapers without the contract.

stusigpi said...

@john

The denial of a reverse bifuricated trial, is probably not favorable to Upper Deck.

You are correct, this only hurts UD as to its ability to file Bunkruptcy and possibly reorganize before they pay out the ass. I'm not sure of any legal significance as far as liability goes.

Upper Deck in their base set went to great lenghts to hide the logos of the players. Why did they not just airbrush the logo that could be seen. There would be no lawsuit.,

I agree with this to a point, but UD pursued a case against DOnruss even though they airbrushed(mostly) the logos and such. They claimed trade dress etc.

The USA Today takes pictures of players in their uniform and shows logos everyday. They don't pay a license.

However, Upper Deck sells cards in packs with a chance at "rare inserts", which goes into the price of their cards.

USA Today sells "news" - What UD sells what amounts to a lottery which contains MLB trademark logos in which they are not authorized to use.

Upper Deck most certainly sells the stats and collectibility of the card. Newspapers often sell special edition newspapers that are collectible that feature logos in pictures all the time SO there might not be as much difference as you might think, although there is a difference, but not a legal distinction strong enough to support one claim and not the other.

This hurts the consumer. Would you drink FDA/usda approved milk or milk that was not approved by the FDA.

I don't think it hurts the consumer, the fact that the cards are not licensed by MLB has not hurt their value at all and so the consumer is not being harmed by non licensed product.

In addition, the FDA regulates products in such a way to protect the health safety and welfare of the consumer. Buying a nonlicensed card is not the same as buying unapproved milk.

Alex said...

I suspected there may be differences. Thanks for the info.

In Australia to an extent you can pick and choose, though if you do, it does tend to work against you in proceedings.

Just FYI, you said:
"Having said that, the logo is not the central theme of the card nor is it important to the card. Once again, its the Player that is, hence the MLBPA license that UD holds."

In Australia that wouldn't matter. Just because it isn't the central theme doesn't mean there isn't copyright breach. All that is required is that it be significant/substantial. Again, in the case I mentioned, the lyrics are what is central to the song, but the use of a few bars of music was still significant/substantial enough to be a violation of the original song owner's copyright.

Thus the fact that Upper Deck mightn't put the actual logos on the card but they are "incidentally" on the players who are the central focus of the card wouldn't necessarily provide Upper Deck with a defence

The joys of copyright law throughout the world!

John said...

Stusigpi:

I am not sure if any logos were shown on the Donruss cards but I thought I saw some on them. I am not sure.

SI on there website is selling a Saints commerative book and DVD but there is also a little copyright squib about the NFL on the bottom. They obviously have a special agreement with the NFL to sell this.

The FDA was not a great analogy but. If you look at the bottom of 2009 and 2010 Topps cards - which references a code. The reason they had to put this on the card was a recent federal law concerning items for children. (I am not sure but I think it did have to do with the Health and Welfare of children).

Again I think a turning issue will be about the consumer. (and maybe also about kids) and Upper Deck should Lose.

Grand Cards said...

More Devil's advocacy: Part of UD's defense argument is that people will buy cards for the players and they note that the inclusion of logos on the photos are an incidental by-product of putting high-quality photographs of players on the cards.

Now take the market for autographed memorabilia. This is a market that is entirely dependent on the player and is, in essence, the market for a particular player's signature on any variety of items.

Why then, when UD sells autographed memorabilia in the form of player photographs, do they only use MLB licensed photographs? Does this contradict their argument in any way? Certainly this market is even more player-centric than sports cards and the logos are even less consequential.

It all just got me thinking about how they could claim that argument for photos they use in cards, but not photos they use for signed memorabilia. Thoughts from the group?

Alex said...

Not too sure Grand Cards. I suspect it may be a case of them not willing to try it on with MLB baseball before purely for their UD authentic range, so they only used MLB licensed photos. However the card market may be worth much more to them, so that is maybe why they are trying it out.

Do they produce the photos in association with MLB or do they just purchase the licensed photos and use them? That may be the distinction. Someone else may produce them and they just purchase them without having to pay the licensing fee.

AdamE said...

To me this is excatly like a newspaper using a photo. Living in Missouri what comes to mind is when McGwire broke the HR Record. The Post Dispatch sold a ton of papers that day with his picture on the front (I even have on). that pictue had a Cardinal's logo on it. They used the photo to sell papers, plain and simple. Upper Deck is doing the same thing, using a photo to sell something.

John said...

Alex: I think if it was a regular newspaper that was newsworthy and they are ok.

However, if they are putting out a special edition just on Mark McGwire then they make a special deal with MLB. Look on Sports Illustrated website, they are selling special edition copies for the Saints (not there regular addition), they have to pay the NFL for the use of those logos in the Special Edition. Look at the Copyright posting at the bottom of the website

Jay said...

Upper Deck got caught with their hands in the cookie jar, and now they must pay.

You cant use a logo without permission plain and simple. I cant make a soft drink, and have the outside of the can look like a coco cola logo, or a pair of jeans and have the Levi logo either.

You can change it a little bit, and maybe get away with it, but then again there is laws against that as well. I believe Its called persuasion.

Mojo

stusigpi said...

@grand
Interesting question about the photos. If they do, it could be more for marketing or because of some licensing agreement they have. There are probably some requirements for putting that damn MLB hologram on the pic.

@AdamE
I agree but I do see the distinction.

@John
We are all making assumptions, but you may be assuming too much. I believe that SI is licensed by NFL for those Superbowl packages and such because they are reproducing logos of teams, the NFL, and the superbowl. The real question is: Do they license the pics and things in their regular magazine?

SI also yammers on and on about how it is officially licensed. Maybe to gain competitive advantage.

I am not so sure that newspapers ever get licenses for the special editions they run. Its still "news" and that term is construed very broadly. It would be a nightmare for MLB to actually go after a newspaper for copyright infringement.

Jay said...

I mean what did they have to lose?? Its like a crap shoot it goes on everyday in our justice system. Upper Deck may have their hands in something else as well that we don't know about. Everything, and everyone can be bought for a price. The whole system is corrupted, and Im sure it goes well beyond our imagination.

Now thats something you will never read in a newspaper.

stusigpi said...

@jay

This situation is not as clear as you have made it seem and your analogy is incorrect. This is not the same as making pop and then putting it in a can that looks like coke or pepsi. Even then, knock offs get away with quite a bit

stusigpi said...

@jay again

It was a calculated risk by UD for sure.

Yes, I have my price, I'm for sale, but only for certain things.

Jay said...

I was stretching it a little bit I admit, but that was my point. Its really no different then comparing a baseball card to yesterdays news.

I got a lawyer, and yes he is overpaid.

Jay said...

How about this. You take the player ( which is the coke a cola), and you slip him in a uniform ( the can) and the logo which is owned, and copyrighted by major League baseball is actually the coca cola logo.

Hmm we can have all kinds of fun with this.. I have heard crazier arguments in court.

NicoLax24 said...

I agree with your arguement completely! Maybe it's just because I HATE the idea of a baseball card monopoly, and I like rooting for the underdog, but your logic seems solid to me. Copyrights should only be able to get you so far, and I think that UD should be considered as being on the safe side of the line.

They plastered it all over the product saying that it is not a licensed product. I agree with the connection between newspapers and cards.

Also, is it copyright infringement if a person wears a Palph Lauren polo shirt in a comercial, and the logo happens to be caught on camera? I've never seen anything to indicate that it would be, and in the case that it isn't then this card issue should be no different. The logo in the photo is clearly not the focal point and therefore is just incidental to the picture.

Also, how do colleges get away with not paying their players? It's because they claim that they do not benefit from using the player's image, rather it is the school's image that draws in the money. I don't understand why that can't be argued in the opposite direction: the teams are choosing to plaster their logos on the specific college players that they deem worthy enough and therefore are profiting from the image of those players. Thus, if colleges can avoid the fact that they profit from these player's images, then i think that UD should be able to avoid the fact that their cards sell because they have picture of players that are wearing MLB team logos.

Jay said...

I mean the whole thing is ridiculous anyhow. Its a hobby for christ sakes It's supposed to be fun.

Alex said...

NicoLaw24.

Upper Deck the underdog? This is hardly a case of David vs Goliath. Upper Deck is a multi-million dollar company that has got where it is by screwing people over.

As for Monopoly, yes competition is preferrable to a point. When the competition is a mobster I draw the line. And at times I see Upper Deck as being little better than mobsters given their history. what they did with the Griffey rookies, the Frennch Canadian Hockey cards and recently conterfeiting cards. Yet for me what was the worst was the way they sacked all those employees last year for what it now looks like was greed pure and simple. So yes competition is good, though not when it is Upper Deck.

So yes, I am torn. A large part of me wants to see them go bust because of their unethical business practices. On the other hand if that happens more people will lose their jobs and I don't want to see that happen.

Alex said...

Stusigpi, can you tell me if in the US legal system if outside parties can seek leave to appear before a case or be joined to a case?

I would have thought the NFL, NBA, NHL, NCAA would have a very big interest in this case, and maybe even others. Though in the case of the NHL, NFL and NCAA they have deals with Upper Deck so they would be cautious about becoming involved.

stusigpi said...

@Alex
What happened with the French hockey cards?

One can 1. Intervene/Interplead/file for joinder I think. 2. File a friend of the court brief.

Alex said...

Stusigpi, back in 1990/1991 the Upper Deck French Candian Hockey cards Upper Deck released were really short printed. After release the cards really skyrocketed in price when it was relised how short-printed they were. The prices of some of the key rookies really went through the roof - I believe they included Jagr, Fedorov and Bure. Boxes and cases of the cards skyrocketed in price and were extremely scarce on the market.

At this point our friends at Upper Deck reprinted the cards and sold cases of them - not at their normal wholesale price to dealers and wholesalers, but "out the back door" at the inflated market price.

Yes, Upper Deck, screwing collectors for 20 years.

stusigpi said...

I actually collected hockey back then and was shocked at how much the french cards were. Next thing I knew they were cheap. That explains it.

gritz76 said...

If UD wins, doesn't that open the door to anybody who wants to make cards? Could we see new companies popping up overnight to get in on the free action? Wouldn't that completely dilute the market and then hurt the consumer? I'm not for having a single license holder, but if UD pulls through, we might be worse off.

stusigpi said...

Yes, anyone could produce cards. The question with anything is can they do it for a profit?

Alex said...

"If UD wins, doesn't that open the door to anybody who wants to make cards?"

That is why I'm surprised that the NBA, NFL, NHL and NCAA hasn't showb a great deal of interest in this case - at least publicly. It opens a can of worms which affects them - topps could continue making NFL cards, topps and Upper Deck NBA cards and Pannini and Topps NHL cards.

The Wax Wombat said...

Which isn't entirely a BAD thing. ITG gets away (and very WELL!) making hockey cards. I think they could do more if they were allowed to indirectly show players in NHL uniforms. I miss Topps hockey as well! Donruss/Panini released some hockey in their Sports Legends (the Pat LaFontaine was in a very seeable Sabres uniform). I say, let licenses allow the featuring of MLB teams/logos on the card and in print, and let every other company work around it with SOME leeway (similar to what UD did). But, hey, if UD broke the law, then I'll accept that. Laws are laws - it's just too bad, you know? The collector (shady business practices and all) loses out no matter what happens it seems.

Alex said...

The collector loses out full stop with Upper Deck.

Too bad? That's Upper Deck's attitude to the collectors they screw over.

Seaotter said...

Apparently, many in this discussion, as well as other blogs, are confusing copyright law with trademark protection. While there are some similarities, they are completely different legal instruments.

What Upper Deck is being accused of is unlawful use of trademarks.

The owners of a trademark not only have the full legal right to protect it, they actually have a legal obligation to protect it from unauthorized use, or they risk losing that property.

Companies invents tons on money into building and promoting their brand identity. In the US and many other countries, Property Law (of which trademarks are) is taken very seriously.

As we all know, UD no longer has a license from MLBP to use MLB's logos. It's really pretty simple. Any use of MLB team logos on a UD product they do not hold a license to use, constitutes an unauthorized use per US Trademark law.

The Newspaper argument talked about here simply doesn't apply, as the media fall under different usage terms (editorial content) as does use in satire, which is legal. However, even in satirical use, most will shy away from using other's trademarks as the trademark holders usually have expensive lawyers behind them. Why risk it?

As for UD using "MLB licensed" photography on products other than trading cards as someone stated here, trademark licenses are usually granted for certain types of products and are limited in scope. Go look up any trademark, you'll find this to be true.

In my opinion, I see no possible outcome where UD wins against MLB. The implications of UD winning such a case would change so much more than the world of trading cards.

US Trademark law as we know it would cease to exist and no one would have exclusive rights to use a trademark on their own product. And that's not going to happen.

It's been stated here as well as other blogs that UD has tons of money to defend itself. Not a bet I'd be willing to take. I'm sure MLBP has much more money behind it.

Sure, UD does have a license from the MLBPA to use the likenesses of players belonging to that association, as well as others covered by other contracts. Frankly, it doesn't mean much. After all, TOPPS doesn't and never has had a license from MLBPA (that's fact, look it up).

That Upper Deck decided to go ahead and produce unlicensed cards anyway, is in my opinion, a blatant "F… YOU" to MLB. (and don't even get me started on the whole counterfeit card subject)

The "disclaimer" UD is printing on their products isn't likely to protect them either. (really, your Honor, we didn't mean to make millions of dollars using unlicensed logos - is just sort of happened) HaHa.

All that being said, (and no, I'm not a lawyer) I also don't believe that exclusive licenses are good for the hobby. On the other hand, it could also be argued that too many companies holding licenses could easily flood a market and dilute and de-value a brand, a common complaint among card collectors.

Or, think of it this way: Do you feel a certain comfort knowing that when you buy a SONY product, you know it's made by SONY and it's got the full backing of SONY, and not some licensee?

I don't like monopolies either, but money talks, and when you're as powerful as the MLB is, no court in the America is going to throw away established trademark protection law.

Emotions aside - and there's plenty of good arguments on both sides, America is run under the "rule of law" and not the "rule of men"

stusigpi said...

Seaotter

Nice argument, but you are incorrect as a whole, but correct in parts.

For example you state:

The owners of a trademark not only have the full legal right to protect it, they actually have a legal obligation to protect it from unauthorized use, or they risk losing that property.


To this you are correct, one must vigorously defend ones copyright and trademark

You state:
Any use of MLB team logos on a UD product they do not hold a license to use, constitutes an unauthorized use per US Trademark law.

In this you are incorrect, "any use" does not constitute infringement. One may incidently use another's trademark for example.

You state:
That Upper Deck decided to go ahead and produce unlicensed cards anyway, is in my opinion, a blatant "F… YOU" to MLB.

This is absolutely correct

You state:
Sure, UD does have a license from the MLBPA to use the likenesses of players belonging to that association, as well as others covered by other contracts. Frankly, it doesn't mean much.

This is incorrect. It means a lot in this case because UD only has to show that the Trademarks are incidental to its use and the player's image is what matters. Rather than having to show the whole shebang is incidental.

hu hu, I said Shebang

You state:

All that being said, (and no, I'm not a lawyer) I also don't believe that exclusive licenses are good for the hobby. On the other hand, it could also be argued that too many companies holding licenses could easily flood a market and dilute and de-value a brand, a common complaint among card collectors.

You are correct in that in not being a lawyer it is very difficult to understand the nuanced distinctions in the law. This case has the potential to implicate copyright law (stats and such) and trademark (logos and such).

You are also correct that too many companies and products flood the market and I do not like that either.

You state:

Or, think of it this way: Do you feel a certain comfort knowing that when you buy a SONY product, you know it's made by SONY and it's got the full backing of SONY, and not some licensee?

This is an incorrect analogy. Sony is the designer and manufacturer of the particular product. Actually often timesa Panasonic is not manufactured by Panasonic. This applies to Sony as well. The fact that MLB doesn't endorse or license UD products makes no difference to me or many other collectors.

You state:
The "disclaimer" UD is printing on their products isn't likely to protect them either. (really, your Honor, we didn't mean to make millions of dollars using unlicensed logos - is just sort of happened) HaHa.

You are incorrect to a point. One of the reasons trademark law exists is to protect the consumer through eliminating consumer confusion. By clearly labeling their product, although Im not sure how clearly it is labeled, UD is trying to prevent that confusion.

That's all for now