Copyright issue leaves eBay seller feeling D-Fence-less

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2015 Panini Prizm Draft Football D-Fense Richard Sherman

“De-Fence! De-Fence!”

It’s a chant heard at almost every football, basketball and hockey game no matter the level of play. And if you stop to take each syllable in a literal sense, it brings up a simple image of a ‘D’ alongside a white picket fence.

But, as at least one eBay seller has found out, that image can lead to listings being pulled and even a suspension from the site.

It turns out the “D-Fence” image has been subject to a copyright for more than 20 years. And the company that holds it is doing what they can to enforce it, even when it comes to dealers selling cards they’ve pulled from packs.

The cards in question are 2015 Panini Prizm Collegiate Draft Picks D-Fence Die-Cut inserts. The horizontal cards use the letter D and a fence in the background with the top of the fence making up the majority of the card’s die-cut portion.

And therein lies the issue.

De-Fense Sports has claimed the copyright to the design since 1994. They used their copyright status to have an eBay listing of Rob Post‘s removed over the weekend. But it wasn’t just one listing that was affected.

“I woke up Sunday morning to a lovely seven-day suspension notice from eBay without any recourse or rebuttal from myself,” said Post. He also said that the suspension came with no sort of warning giving him a chance to remove the listing on his own.

Having just attended the National, this suspension has further-reaching implications and creates pressure for him as an online dealer.

“It leaves with with hundreds of listings I can’t list and sell while they are still newer and highly sought after,” he said. “If I ever get another violation on eBay the time could be longer or permanent. It’s like a batter starting their at bats with two strikes. [There’s] no margin for error.”

Despite Post’s suspension, several other D-Fence listings remain on eBay. But for how long? If Post is the example, all it will take is De-Fense Sports to go and make similar complaints against other cards.

2015 Panini Prizm Draft Football D-Fense Leonard Williams

According to the De-Fense website, they actively encourage people to report violations of their copyright by asking for images of signs and anything else that might be spotted at a live sporting event. An “official” piece of swag is the potential reward for a successful complaint.

In the meantime, this doesn’t help Post. He’s been left feeling singled-out for something he wasn’t aware of until a decision had been made.

“I’m still trying to understand how Panini or any other company would issue a card that is in violation of any copyright or trademark,” he said. “What’s next? Will sellers get a permanent ban from eBay for selling pack-pulled cards? What keyword will be next? Will your next listing be your last?”

When you click on links to various merchants on this site, like eBay, and make a purchase, this can result in this site earning a commission.

Ryan Cracknell

A collector for much of his life, Ryan focuses primarily on building sets, Montreal Expos and interesting cards. He's also got one of the most comprehensive collections of John Jaha cards in existence (not that there are a lot of them). Got a question, story idea or want to get in touch? You can reach him by email and through Twitter @tradercracks.

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  1. NickM 10 August, 2015 at 17:08

    The company is a copyright and trademark troll. Their copyright covers one specific artwork with a red capital D and a red 4-post fence. They are abusing the VeRO system to harm sellers of products that are not covered by their copyright. They have also tried claiming a trademark over the use of the word Defense (and a number of spelling and punctuation variations of it) for matters where it is generic in the sports field.
    They are a scam, operating out of a UPS store box in Coral Gables, FL, and should be sued out of business.

  2. greg 10 August, 2015 at 17:11

    I think Panini should be responsible for any and all damages that may cause. They should have done their due diligence in knowing whether that was trademarked and never released the cards. Thats not the sellers fault at all

  3. Kin 10 August, 2015 at 17:48

    This company needs to remember that there is probably no group of people with longer memories than sports fans. This is going to make a large number of people very angry. I am all for protecting a trademark, but this is not what you do. Go after Panini if you want, but not people that did nothing wrong.

  4. cardopinionator 10 August, 2015 at 19:59

    Once again, the almighty eBay rules with an iron fist. Punishing the lowest on the totem pole, their customer. Remove the item, OK, that is reasonable. Ban for a week over something the seller could not possibly know? Ridiculous! Has eBay ever used common sense? Preponderance of the evidence? Reasonable cause, to hand out judgement?

  5. David Hawa 10 August, 2015 at 23:45

    Oh darn, I was going to trademark the word defense. Now I’ll have to trademark the word “the” and I’ll sue anyone that doesn’t pay me for . This company is sue happy I’m sure. What moronic company tries to trademark a common word? ( Read NikiM’s comment)

  6. Mike Pereira 11 August, 2015 at 06:27

    This sounds just like “Deflate Gate” with Panini as Tom Brady and Ebay as the clueless Commissioner that brings down a huge overboard response to a complaint from an equal clueless team the Colts or De-fense for this examples purpose.

    I guess De-Fense thinks any press is good press, but I’m sure BP Oil thinks that too. It’s like when you were in kindergarten and got in trouble for eating a cookie someone gave you that they stole for the cookie jar.

  7. Ernie 11 August, 2015 at 10:31

    WOW i hope the seller starts a case against ebay, Panini and the company who started it for his lost sales or potential sales and time lost due this.

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