“College Cards,” a University of Wisconsin-themed card game formatted in the style of “Cards Against Humanity,” has announced it will cease production after UW threatened legal action against the game’s creator for trademark and licensing infringement.
UW spokesperson Meredith McGlone said the company was illegally using intellectual property which belongs to the university.
“The university’s name, mascot, logos and so forth are intellectual property that belongs to UW–Madison. They can’t be used without express written permission,” McGlone said. “College Cards was illegally using the university’s name and marks.”
McGlone said the company handling UW’s trademarks and licensing notified College Cards of its illegal use of UW’s name and marks Monday.
Two days later, the game announced in an email it would shut down operations by the end of the week. Founder and UW alumnus David Kemmerer said the company would continue supplying orders until Friday.
In the email to The Badger Herald Wednesday, Kemmerer cited the cost of a trademark dispute as the main reason for the company’s decision to cease operations.
“Sadly in cases like these, it’s not about who is right or wrong (as we were informed by our trademark attorney). It is about who has deeper pockets and can go the distance in a lawsuit,” Kemmerer said. “Seeing that the median cost of a Trademark Dispute in 2015 was $325,000, we really have no choice but to comply with the university’s demands.”
McGlone said the university must follow up in all situations of improper usage and the actions taken against College Cards were not selective or targeted in any way. At this time, no legal action has been taken against College Cards.
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The university has a pre-established licensing process for companies that wish to sell products branded with the UW trademark, McGlone said. This process includes a code of conduct to which all companies must adhere and which McGlone said benefits UW students.
“The code addresses such issues as workers’ wages and working conditions,” McGlone said. “Students also benefit from the licensing process — the income helps support student financial aid through Bucky Grants, a need-based program that has received more than $16 million in licensing revenue since 2001.”
Kemmerer said creating College Cards was “the most challenging thing” he had ever done in his life, as he personally oversaw the game’s creation, design, manufacturing, distribution, marketing and sales.
Kemmerer said he hopes the university and College Cards can resolve the dispute amicably.
“I have the highest respect for the University of Wisconsin, and I understand where they are coming from in this matter,” Kemmerer said. “College Cards LLC looks forward to resolving these matter amicably with them.”