How a Playing Card Design Sparked a Million Dollar Lawsuit

How a Playing Card Design Sparked a Million Dollar Lawsuit

Did you know playing cards were invented in 9th century China?

They even had four suits. The difference is that their suits were coins, strings of coins, myriads of strings, and tens of myriads. A little different from diamonds, hearts, clubs, and spades.

Well even though they’ve been around forever, apparently designs on the card can be copyrighted and that’s what’s going on in a lawsuit between an inventor and a huge playing card company.

The playing card company, which is incidentally named U.S. Playing Card Company, is getting sued by a Florida inventor named Michael Faessler. Court date is set for January 14th, 2008. I’m sure you’ve seen the name U.S. Playing Card Company before – the company is big. Real big.

And the lawsuit is big too. Faessler’s case, originally filed in September of 2005, calls for statutory damages of $1.35 million dollars for nine counts of copyright infringement. The Florida inventor feels that U.S. Playing Card Company has violated the copyrights on his unique designs.

Who is Florida inventor Michael Faessler?


He’s a West Point graduate and designer of cards. He had created and sold his Military Playing Cards from 1995 and 2001. These cards had a patriotic theme to them. Guess what happened with U.S. Playing Card Company. Yup, they came out with their own line – the Patriotic Playing Cards line. Major conflict there. Faessler feels U.S. Playing Card Company knew about the contract he had and tried to overtake his line for contracts with military PXs. The designs from the U.S. Playing Card Company do have a resemblance to the design created by Faessler, thus creating the conflict.

What is the United States Playing Card Company

If you’ve used playing cards, chances are you’ve used their cards. They produce and distribute some of the most popular brands of playing cards for poker, blackjack, and baccarat, such as Bicycle, Bee, Aviator, and Hoyle. Bicycle, one of their brands, has been one of the most popular and best selling brands for over 100 years since being founded way back in 1867.
What are military PXs

A post exchange (PX), also known as a base exchange (BX), is found on Army installations. They consist of a large department store type of shop that sell consumer goods and services to active, reserve and retired military personnel and their dependents. Base exchange (BX), also referred to as a post exchange (PX) on Army installations, is a large department store-like shop that operates on United States military installations around the world. Usually tax-free, these PXs have stores like beauty salons, barber shops, liquor stores, gas stations, fast food restaurants, convenience stores, and movie theaters.
What’s going to happen

U.S. Playing Card Company tried to dismiss the case with a pre-trial motion but that didn’t work. Now Faessler has asked and been granted a jury trial. He has also mentioned he will likely target military PXs with lawsuits in the future.