House Of Cards Sued Over Trademark Regarding Themed Slot Machines

from the slots-of-fun dept

Another day, another trademark dispute with one side weaponizing a trademark for a commonly used phrase and stretching the definition of common marketplaces. The latest foray into making my head hurt with this sort of thing is between MRC, producers of the Netflix drama House of Cards, and D2 Holdings, which claims to have trademarked the phrase and licenses for a radio program that covers gambling. At issue is a soon-to-be-released series of House of Cards themed slot machines in casinos across the nation.

In the suit, D2 Holdings claims that it owns the trademark for “House of Cards” in word form, and licenses the phrase for a gaming-centric radio show of the same name. D2 is taking issue with the slot games “House of Cards Power and Money” and “House of Cards Welcome to Washington,” which it says “are slated for placement in casinos in the first quarter of 2016.”

Where to begin? First, any mark on a commonly used phrase, such as “house of cards”, is already problematic and ought to have a very specific focus on a narrow application of the mark if it’s going to be approved. Add to that that licensing the phrase to a gambling radio show isn’t competing in the same marketplace as a series of slot machines in casinos and I’m struggling to see how this lawsuit doesn’t get immediately laughed out of court. Radio programming isn’t gambling, no matter the subject of the show. If this line of thought were to be validated, I imagine all kinds of sports radio programming would be in deep trouble, as radio shows covering sports use all kinds of sports-related phrases that are likely trademarked by all kinds of entities. If those sports radio shows are suddenly seen to be in the marketplace of “sports” rather than “radio”, there could be all kinds of infringement suits brought against them. That, of course, won’t happen, because radio does not equal sports. It also doesn’t equal slot machines.

But even putting that aside, the claim from D2 Holdings that there is real customer confusion to worry about is laughable.

“Defendants’ unauthorized use of the House of Cards mark makes it highly likely, if not inevitable, that members of the trade and general public will be confused and assume, incorrectly, that the House of Cards mark is owned by MRC, or that there is an affiliation with D2, or that Plaintiff has sponsored, endorsed or approved these products,” the suit reads.

Yeah, that isn’t going to happen. These machines will be filled with the iconography of the show. Anyone who has seen a themed slot machine knows what they look like and how they are decorated. There will be zero customer confusion between the Netflix show and a gambling radio broadcast. Suggesting otherwise is silly.

Unless D2 Holdings has some ace up its sleeve that I don’t know about, I would expect a quick tossing of this lawsuit.

Filed Under: , , ,
Companies: d2 holdings, mrc, netflix

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Comments on “House Of Cards Sued Over Trademark Regarding Themed Slot Machines”

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Anonymous punward says:

Ace up it's sleeve?

Oh snap! Hopefully they’ll have the heart to club this suit with the diamond sharpened end of a spade. Somebody would like to deck them with a closed hand or throw them off a bridge. Sounds like a lousy deal that isn’t worth jack and I casino point to it. Don’t poker sleeping lion or you’ll shuffle off this mortal coil.

Anonymous Coward says:

Unless D2 Holdings has some ace up its sleeve that I don’t know about, I would expect a quick tossing of this lawsuit.

If you had actually read the complaint, or had done proper homework before pumping out another “trademark dumb!” post, you’d know that D2 holds incontestible rights to “House of Cards” and that MRC tried on several occasions to register its own marks of the same name but was denied each time. You’d also know that D2 is suing over more than just slot machines, and there is more than just the one trademark infringement claim. Heck, if you actually did your homework and spent a day or two learning the basics of trademark law, you might even be able to piece together a post wherein you don’t sound like a complete fucking idiot. But this, alas, is Techdirt. Mike’s standards aren’t nearly so high.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

…and alas, nobody attacking him will bother citing any of their claims. You’re too interested in personal attacks instead of righting any incorrect statements in the articles (which are almost always corrected if name-calling is replaced by verifiable citations).

“Mike’s standards aren’t nearly so high.”

The same Mike who didn’t write the article? But, hey, you rant and rave while calling the wrong person a “complete fucking idiot”, while refusing to identify yourself or your sources. Of course your claims are the most believable! You’re probably dumb enough to believe that too.

Once again, what do we have to do to get adults in this room? A few polite words, carefully sourced information and honest debate on the new information would go much further than tantrums and namecalling.

Anonymous Coward says:

If these slots show up in the casinos I go to I’ll play them just to spite the plaintiff. D2 should have had issues long before this. If they didn’t have issues with the show’s name then they have no claim to issues with any of the show’s merchandising. And slots are a form of merchandising.

If anything I would think the tv show’s fans would be confused over the radio show’s name, assuming the radio show is even aired.

Anonymous Coward says:

A house of cards (also known as a card tower) is a structure created by stacking playing cards on top of each other. “House of cards” is also an expression that dates back to 1645[1] meaning a structure or argument built on a shaky foundation or one that will collapse if a necessary (but possibly overlooked or unappreciated) element is removed.

Trademark BORKED…..

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