No More Gaffed Cards from USPPC?

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Tom Frame
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No More Gaffed Cards from USPPC?

Postby Tom Frame » May 7th, 2009, 1:38 pm

Hey folks,

There has been a lot of sweating and fretting and hand-wringing over at the Cafe, due to the rumor that USPCC is planning to stop producing gaffed cards. Naturally, the situation is not as bad as the kiddies make it sound.

A gentleman with the screen name MikeMoLang from the Cafe contacted the USPCC and here is the response from a USPCC representative:

"There is partial truth to the fact that we are limiting what we are doing for magicians. Its not that we dont want to service the magic market as the thread you attached suggested. However, we want to protect the Bicycle Brand and our registered trademarks.

To explain in more detail, what US Playing Card does not want to do is change registered trademarks. Unfortunately, this includes our famous Bicycle Rider Back design that is recognized around the world. The reason we cant change these trademarks is that if we do we put the trademark at risk because there are many small companies that will copy our design elements in hopes of confusing consumers and obviously US Playing Cards business is at risk when this happens. We will always take legal action against anyone who copies, or remotely emulates our registered trademarks and in a court of law we will win because we own the trademarks.

However, if US Playing Card gets in the practice of changing trademarks then it will be impossible for US Playing Card to defend itself in court against some other company who copies, or remotely emulates the trademarks. It seems logical that a court would obviously be able to see when a competitor is trying to fool consumers by changing some other companys trademarks, and therefore they would uphold the original trademark, but that is not the case. I have been involved in another business where a direct competitor made a product look exactly like the one my company produced and my company lost the lawsuit because we changed the trademark too many times.

Obviously my interest is to both protect the Bicycle Brand and grow sales. However, I cant do one at the expense of the other. I hope this drives clarity into the issue because I know the magic industry is probably confused by US Playing Cards actions. I know that US Playing Card changed registered trademarks in the past, but I cant allow some of the changes the former administration allowed.

However, US Playing Card would still like to cater to magicians. Im open to suggestions from you on how to do that. We can make some changes to our cards. For example, we can make any change to the faces because they are not registered trademarks. We can make color changes to registered trademarks. Attached are a few other examples of things we will do.

Lastly, I would like to ask a favor of you. Would you communicate my message to the magic community? My hopes is that through communication we could come to some sort of resolution to where we can still facilitate what magicians need, but comply with our internal regulations. Again, we want to produce cards for magicians and its important business for us. In fact, I believe magicians are big promoters of the Bicycle brand.

Regards,

Aaron Haid"
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Richard Kaufman
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Re: No More Gaffed Cards from USPPC?

Postby Richard Kaufman » May 7th, 2009, 4:26 pm

This has been known for some time. They will no longer print anything that alters the backs of their trademarked cards.

What's interesting is that the Bicycle Rider back has been used since at least 1906 (when DeLand first started marketing gimmicked cards), and I don't know of anything from before 1923 that is protected by copyright.

Is trademark law different on this issue?

I have consulted an oracle and hope to have an answer soon.
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Re: No More Gaffed Cards from USPPC?

Postby erdnasephile » May 7th, 2009, 5:43 pm

So it sounds like double backs, double facers are still OK, as well as the weird colors.

Does anyone know if the "ultimate marked cards" were produced by USPCC? Since they involve a change to the backs, would they be out of bounds as well?

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Re: No More Gaffed Cards from USPPC?

Postby Richard Kaufman » May 7th, 2009, 5:51 pm

ANY alteration of the backs currently appears to be a no-go. So you'll have to go back to making your Ted Lesley decks with Letraset. Oh--I don't think they make those rub on letters any more, do they.
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Re: No More Gaffed Cards from USPPC?

Postby Lemniscate » May 7th, 2009, 5:51 pm

Richard Kaufman wrote:This has been known for some time. They will no longer print anything that alters the backs of their trademarked cards.

What's interesting is that the Bicycle Rider back has been used since at least 1906 (when DeLand first started marketing gimmicked cards), and I don't know of anything from before 1923 that is protected by copyright.

Is trademark law different on this issue?

I have consulted an oracle and hope to have an answer soon.


I was curious about the same thing. There are other issues at play as well (non-trademark holders creating modified versions, I knew a lawyer who worked at Mad Magazine once upon a time and he said it's amazing when you can get away with under the guise of entertainment).

I know NOTHING for sure, but if any of you do, I'd be curious to hear.

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Re: No More Gaffed Cards from USPPC?

Postby Bob Farmer » May 7th, 2009, 6:00 pm

Here's a link that will answer a lot of questions:

http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/metaschool ... ain/tm.htm

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Re: No More Gaffed Cards from USPPC?

Postby Richard Kaufman » May 7th, 2009, 6:00 pm

I have spoken with my oracle, who states that not only can USPC do this, it's actually a good idea from their point of view. Screwing with your trademarked products is not a good idea.

AND, trademark (the oracle added) is nothing like copyright, which is why Coca-Cola is still a viable trademark even though it's well over 100 years old.
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the Larry
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Re: No More Gaffed Cards from USPPC?

Postby the Larry » May 7th, 2009, 6:08 pm

Trademarks do not expire like copyrights. A trademark that is continuously used in commerce remains valid. So in principle it can be valid indefinitely.

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Re: No More Gaffed Cards from USPPC?

Postby David » May 7th, 2009, 8:55 pm

USPCC has printed one last run of the Boris Wild marked deck. No more.
They are allowing existing customer to have one one final print run of cards that
they feel might somehow weaken trademark protection. Jobbers are already out of
some mixed gaffed deck.

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Re: No More Gaffed Cards from USPPC?

Postby Pete McCabe » May 8th, 2009, 12:49 am

Any word on the USPCC-made stripper decks? I have one and it's very nice.

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Re: No More Gaffed Cards from USPPC?

Postby Ryan Matney » May 8th, 2009, 1:46 am

Other than Boris Wild decks, what exactly are examples of cards that were weakening the trademark?

Does any of the trendy decks from Ellusionist and Theory11 fall into that catagory? Just wondering exactly what they are talking about, because double backs and facers would be out to if that is considered an alteration of the 'back' of a card.

That would leave out blank backed cards and blank both sides cards etc etc
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Re: No More Gaffed Cards from USPPC?

Postby Joe Pecore » May 8th, 2009, 7:02 am

I believe its just the actual image on the back of the card (with the angels) that is trademarked (as well as the ace of spaces and the jokers).

If there are too many slight variations to the image used, I guess it weakens their trademark of the original design. They probably can't trademark the variations, because they are too close to the original. I believe a trademarked image has to be substantially different from anything else.

Stuff like double backs/facers (most likely stripper decks too), does not change the image. So, I would believe those are fine.

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Re: No More Gaffed Cards from USPPC?

Postby Joe Pecore » May 8th, 2009, 7:05 am

Paul Harris' Twilight Angels refills ( http://paulharrispresents.webs.com/apps ... how/594730 ) is most likely an example of weakening the trademark.
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Re: No More Gaffed Cards from USPPC?

Postby Jonathan Townsend » May 8th, 2009, 10:33 am

Isn't that exactly what 'fair use' for artistic purposes is supposed to be?

How is that diluting the trademark?
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Re: No More Gaffed Cards from USPPC?

Postby Pete McCabe » May 8th, 2009, 1:36 pm

Twilight Angels uses the entire back design. Fair Use does not allow you to use that much of something. I don't know how much you're allowed to use, but you're definitely not allowed to use that much.

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Re: No More Gaffed Cards from USPPC?

Postby Donal Chayce » May 8th, 2009, 1:49 pm

Hmmm...I've got a couple Ultimate Marked Decks that are immediately going into Porper card clips when I get home tonight.
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Re: No More Gaffed Cards from USPPC?

Postby Jonathan Townsend » May 8th, 2009, 1:51 pm

guess it's back to fretting over learning Braille to use dots.
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Re: No More Gaffed Cards from USPPC?

Postby Irving Quant » May 11th, 2009, 1:27 pm

I'm curious as to what will happen to all of those gaffs out there that do have alterations on the backs. Will they go up in price?

I find it interesting that Tom brings this up since I am familiar with the Hypercard Project and the gaff necessary...Tom, your thoughts on the subject?

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Re: No More Gaffed Cards from USPPC?

Postby Tom Frame » May 11th, 2009, 3:24 pm

Irv, you inquisitive varlet!

Yes, Ive thought about this matter and I think my gaff will be safe. USPCC simply doesnt want to alter the image of their Bicycle back. On my gaff, the back's image is not altered. Its just, well, you know
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Re: No More Gaffed Cards from USPPC?

Postby The Magic Apple » May 12th, 2009, 1:33 am

I arranged the printing of the Twilight Angels for Paul Harris and there were QUITE A FEW printed, but as it stands now, NO MORE will be printed. I can't tell you how I BEGGED and PLEADED with their Lawyers and executives to allow alterations of the back design. There are quite a few products on the market that are NOW going to be 'limited ediion' effects.

I currently print gaffed cards with the USPCC and there have been A LOT of changes in the company since a) Jarden Brand took over and b) they moved out on Cincinatti.

They have even discontinued the Costco/Sam's Club playing card line. These rider back 808 cards were printed SPECIALLY for these 2 stores and are now no longer available.

Tally Ho Fan backs have been discontinued as well as everything EXCEPT Rider Backs, Tally Ho Circle (which I sell), and Bee.

If any of you would like gaffed cards, I am currently doing a run and have about 4 slots left. E-mail me with questions
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Re: No More Gaffed Cards from USPPC?

Postby 000 » May 12th, 2009, 6:34 am

Are the 'league' backs also included in the axing process?

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Re: No More Gaffed Cards from USPPC?

Postby Henley » May 12th, 2009, 7:03 am

Hmm. I wonder what happens to all blank/blank back/double facers too.

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Re: No More Gaffed Cards from USPPC?

Postby NCMarsh » May 12th, 2009, 10:37 am

Henley,

The USPCC letter at the beginning of the thread indicates that is only trademarked areas -- the image printed on the backs of the card and the Ace of Spades...blanks, doube facers, double backers, etc. are fine...

N.

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Re: No More Gaffed Cards from USPPC?

Postby The Magic Apple » May 12th, 2009, 11:06 am

you are right Marsh, double this....blank that are fine for now.

yes, League backs are being discontinued but they still have quite a few of them in stock
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Re: No More Gaffed Cards from USPPC?

Postby Jeff Haas » May 12th, 2009, 12:52 pm

What were the Costco/Sam's Club line? Were they different than the regular ones you see in the drug store?

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Re: No More Gaffed Cards from USPPC?

Postby BlueEyed Videot » May 12th, 2009, 4:41 pm

Judging by all the horribly off-center cuts I've seen in the baker's dozen I got from Sam's Club, I'm guessing they were all factory seconds (and I don't mean that in a good way, either).

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Re: No More Gaffed Cards from USPPC?

Postby Dustin Stinett » May 12th, 2009, 6:41 pm

The cards at Costco and/or Sam's Club are not "seconds."

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Re: No More Gaffed Cards from USPPC?

Postby erdnasephile » May 12th, 2009, 7:51 pm

Dustin Stinett wrote:The cards at Costco and/or Sam's Club are not "seconds."


Yes--unfortunately, this is true (they even switched to Jumbo index cards at my local Sam's)

This is off topic, but my current favorite regular cards are the Richard Turner Traditionally Cut Bikes. They feel similar to the way Bikes used to feel when they had another layer, and they faro right out of the box. Since they don't apparently violate trademark, hopefully Mr. Turner will keep them available for a long time to come. :)

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Re: No More Gaffed Cards from USPPC?

Postby Henley » May 12th, 2009, 8:27 pm

NCMarsh wrote:Henley,

The USPCC letter at the beginning of the thread indicates that is only trademarked areas -- the image printed on the backs of the card and the Ace of Spades...
N.


I was thinking that completely removing the (trademarked) back design could be considered an "alteration". Probably not.

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Re: No More Gaffed Cards from USPPC?

Postby Jonathan Townsend » May 12th, 2009, 9:08 pm

Mickey Mouse wearing a hat, Mickey Mouse wearing sunglasses... would seem to be covered by the Disney trademark on that iconic character representation.

How does USPCC printing cards that use their own designs dilute their trademark?

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Re: No More Gaffed Cards from USPPC?

Postby Richard Kaufman » May 13th, 2009, 3:38 am

Mickey Mouse is a character--not the same thing at all.
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Re: No More Gaffed Cards from USPPC?

Postby Ian Kendall » May 13th, 2009, 5:03 am

There is a shop here in Edinburgh that sells poker chip sets with a couple of decks of cards. The cards look a lot like Bicycle Fan backs, except that the pedal bike is replaced by a motorbike.

Now this is a blatant trademark infringment, and anyone who can't see why USPCC want to stop this has their head in the sand. Reading the very clear post quoted above from the USPCC honcho one can understand why major alterations will dilute their claim to the design.

What is not clear, at least to me, is how minor changes, such as markings, would fit in.

Anyway, just remember Prussian Blue and Vermillion...

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Re: No More Gaffed Cards from USPPC?

Postby Bob Farmer » May 13th, 2009, 9:29 am

Ian, I'll be in Edinburgh in August for a wild wedding and I'll check this out personally and report back.

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Re: No More Gaffed Cards from USPPC?

Postby timbrown » September 25th, 2009, 1:16 pm

I just stopped in for a visit to Haines House of Cards in Norwood, Ohio and discovered the the USPCC gift shop (just down the road a bit from Haines) was no more. What a bummer!

I would always stop at the USPCC gift shop when passing through Cincinnati and walk out with a bag or two of goodies.

The last time I found 8 decks of Texam palmetto backs and paid just $0.25 per deck (that's right - just a quarter per deck!)

I'm going to miss that place...


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