So as part of the Topps vs. Upper Deck court battle over alleged misuse of vintage O-Pee-Chee designs, a judge has ordered Upper Deck to cease production and halt distribution of the cards and ruled that the company can’t market those cards.
While this case means plenty to Upper Deck and Topps, this decision shouldn’t mean much to collectors. Why? This isn’t 1989 – the presses stopped rolling some time ago. Halt distribution? Well, the newest product in question, 2009 O-Pee-Chee, has hit retail stores, so there’s plenty already out there.
Upper Deck has until July 16 to sell off its remaining inventory of the products in question, which likely means the entirety of the product gets into large distributors’ (or dealers’) hands faster than it normally would. (A move that could cost Upper Deck some money vs. a longer sales period.) Ok, then what? That probably will mean lower prices on the product as said dealers need to move the inventory to make room for something else.
How much advertising do you see card companies doing after a product’s release? It’s not as much as you might think — if any at all. There’s always another product, the next new thing, to promote –- despite there being fewer products than ever on the market for baseball collectors.
The designs in question are insert cards in 2009 Upper Deck Series 1 that emulate the 1975 O-Pee-Chee (and Topps) designs and hockey products that emulate the 1979-80 hockey design. (This design also was used as an insert in the new 2009 O-Pee-Chee baseball set.) Plans for 1971-inspired (above) and 1977-inspired O-Pee-Chee inserts in this year’s OPC set and in Upper Deck Series 2 were abandoned.
Should this ruling mean much to collectors? No. The cards are out there and will remain on the market. Had the move that Topps previously pursued — seeking the destruction of the cards in question and a temporary restraining order preventing some of the later products’ releases as well as a chunk of Upper Deck’s profits — been approved, it probably would matter more to collectors.
Chris Olds has collected sports cards and memorabilia since 1987. Before coming to Beckett Media, he wrote about the hobby for the Orlando Sentinel on his blog, SportsStuff, and for the San Antonio Express-News and The Tuscaloosa (Ala.) News. Do you have a comment, question or idea? Send e-mail to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.