“House of Cards” Trademark Owner vs. Netflix Series

The producer of popular Netflix series, “House of Cards” was sued on Thursday, March 3, 2016, for trademark infringement. The suit, filed in a Massachusetts federal court, alleges that defendant, Media Rights Capital II Distribution Company (MRC), which distributes the popular Netflix series, unlawfully licensed the “House of Cards” mark to other entities.

D2 Holdings, the plaintiff and holder of the “House of Cards” trademark, alleges that the defendant licensed the trademark to third party companies to make merchandise such as T-shirts and hats. The complaint also claims that defendant licensed the mark to International Games Technology (IGT), the maker of casino games and slot machines, which may have already introduced House of Cards slot machines in Massachusetts.

The plaintiff has been the trademark owner of “House of Cards” in word form since June, 23, 2009. The Netflix series, featuring Kevin Spacey, debuted on February 1, 2013. According to the complaint, the defendant tried to register the mark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office during the course of the series. However, the defendant’s application was repeatedly rejected because of the plaintiff’s superior rights to the mark.

In October of 2015, the plaintiff notified the defendant of its superior rights in the “House of Cards” mark and invited a discussion for a possible licensing negotiation. However, the plaintiff never received a substantive response.

The plaintiff claims that the defendant continues to license the mark without consent, despite the plaintiff’s superior rights.

According to the complaint, the plaintiff claims that the defendant “infringed Plaintiff’s House of Cards mark, diluted the unique commercial impression of the House of Cards Mark, unfairly competed with D2 in the marketplace, and otherwise improperly used D2’s House of Cards mark, which is not connected with Defendants, authorized, approved, licensed, produced, or sponsored by Plaintiff.”

The plaintiff seeks damages as well as an injunction to prevent MRC and IGT from using the mark.

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