Two Local Trading Card Companies Head to Court Over 750 Old Kevin Durant Autographs
So when my son saw this on my desktop this morning, at last, a story in which he was interested. Very interested. Because "this" is a 2007 Upper Deck Kevin Durant rookie card, which he autographed per the former Longhorn's then-exclusive deal with, well, Upper Deck -- his first-ever endorsement deal. I was just curious to see what signed Durants sell for. Durant's not with Upper Deck anymore, though. He's a Panini man now, locked up one year ago to an "exclusive multi-year agreement with the company includes autographs and memorabilia."
But Leaf now has in its possession 750 signed Durant Upper Deck-ers, which Brian Gray's hoping to sell to Panini, per a lawsuit filed yesterday in Dallas County District Court. And according to exhibits contained in the lawsuit, which was posted to Courthouse News this morning, Panini's memorabilia business manager Brian Bayne told Gray last summer he doesn't want or need the old Upper Deck product since they now have the exclusive with the Oklahoma City Thunder forward. Gray told Bayne in an July 21 email he was giving Panini "first shot" at the signed stock at $35 a piece; "I paid $30," wrote Gray, "so there is no room to negotiate." Bayne responded four days later, "It would be fairly troubling to see these holograms show up in the marketplace after we've invested in an exclusive agreement with Kevin."
So now Panini's suing Leaf to stop them from distributing those old Durant autographs, because, as the suit says, "Success in the trading card industry is based, in large measure, on reputation as well as athletes that you have 'exclusive' agreements with. As a result of these factors, Panini takes its reputation very seriously. Additionally, it has expended significant time and money to have 'exclusive agreements' with a number of athletes in the NFL, NHL and NBA." So it's willing to spend more to bury those cards now. For what it's worth, my son said he'd buy one.