Andrew Luck, Trading Card Company Battle Over Rights to H.S. All Star Game Photos

Categories: Lawsuit, Sports
Andrew Luck, former Stanford quarterback and soon-to-be NFL draft pick, is about to become a multi-millionaire this week -- and he's already started trying to protect his business.

Earlier this month, he filed a cease-and-desist letter against Leaf Trading Cards, which sells a card featuring an action shot of Luck during the 2008 U.S. Army All-American Bowl, the esteemed high school football all-star game. The letter demanded that Leaf stop offering products that "use Mr. Luck's publicity rights in any way."

But in a lawsuit filed on Friday, Leaf argued that Luck has no legal grounds for his case because the trading card company has "an exclusive license to use the names, likeness, image, and intellectual property of players in the Bowl, including alumni players from previous Bowls."

Leaf, the suit notes, has produced All-American Bowl trading cards since 2010, its first year of operation. This year the company released a trading card series that included players who are expected to be selected in the upcoming NFL draft. And this is where Luck's card came into play.

On April 13, Luck's attorney sent Leaf the cease-and-desist letter. Friday's lawsuit, filed in Dallas, Texas, where the company is based, seeks a judgement declaring that the company is within its rights to produce and sell the Luck card.

Leaf cited first amendment free speech rights in the suit, in addition to its express license with SportsLink, the company that produces the all-star game. Luck, Leaf argued, benefited from the contest "via exposure, name recognition, and marketability."

In many ways, this dispute parallels the legal battles between the NCAA and former college athletes who charge that the organization unfairly exploits their image for merchandise, video games, and other products.

Don't expect Luck to appear stressed out by this lawsuit when he's announced as the no. 1 pick on Thursday.

Hat tip to Courthouse News Service.

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