Netflix’s House of Cards series has enjoyed a highly successful run on the streaming site and just released its fourth season. With so much success, it has built up a nice name for itself. Even many of those that haven’t watched the series probably have at least heard of it. That could all be in jeopardy though, as the series distributor, MRC II Distribution Company, faces a trademark challenge from the registered owner of the trademark on “House of Cards”.
D2 Holdings is the registered owner of the trademark on “House of Cards”. The group applied for the mark in 2008 and received a registration in 2009. The registration is in the trademark class covering entertainment in the nature of visual and audio performance. As part of the registration, the D2 mark mentions games of chance and poker in its registration.
MRC II has applied for its own trademark registration on House of Cards, but it has been rejected by the Trademark Office on a likelihood of confusion rejection with the Trademark Office citing the D2 Holdings as a similar mark.
One wonders whether a proper trademark clearing search was performed (no pun intended) before the title of the Netflix series was selected. If so and the producers of “House of Cards” were aware of D2 Holdings’ trademark registration before naming their series, one also wonders who made this decision and why they thought the benefits of doing so outweighed the risks. Potentially, there could be grounds for asserting willful infringement.
In any event, this is another example of where sound legal advice from a trademark attorney could be valuable and would have been useful early on.