Board game publishing major Ravensburger has confirmed it is pressing ahead with its planned August release of the hugely anticipated Disney Lorcana trading card game despite being hit with a lawsuit by Upper Deck claiming it stole the game’s design.
Upper Deck’s complaint alleges that Lorcana lead designer Ryan Miller took his work on Upper Deck’s previously unannounced game Rush of Ikorr with him when he left the company in 2020, transporting it to his new employer Ravensburger to create Lorcana.
The 19-page complaint, which can be read here, was submitted by Upper Deck on June 7, and includes a side-by-side comparison of a host of elements from Lorcana and Rush of Ikorr it says proves the Disney TCG is a copy of the latter.
In addition to damages and lawsuit costs, the Upper Deck complaint seeks an injunction from the court preventing Ravensburger from releasing Lorcana.
A statement provided to BoardGameWire from Ravensburger North America senior communications director Lisa Krueger on Friday said,
“We at Ravensburger stand behind the integrity of our team and the originality of our products.
“The baseless claims filed this week are entirely without merit, and we look forward to proving this in due time. In the meantime, our focus continues to be on developing and launching a fantastic game in August.”
Intellectual property lawyer Paul Lesko has been active on Twitter since the complaint was filed, providing his expert opinion on how the case is likely to shake out.
He has shown surprise that Upper Deck has apparently not filed a distinct motion for a temporary restraining order or preliminary injuction, which he said he would have done “to ensure control”.
He also questioned the lack of a motion from Ravensburger’s lawyers to remove the case to a federal court, which would likely have slowed the case down to give it time to get Lorcana released.
Lesko said, “If [Upper Deck] filed a TRO/PI motion it would put a lot of pressure on Ravensburger because it’s product line is now at risk.
“If on the other hand Ravensburger removed case to federal court it fucks UD’s choice of court and slows case down a bit. So why not do!?!!”
Last night Upper Deck president Jason Masherah took part in a live interview with talk show Sports Cards Live, in which he said that when the Lorcana ruleset was released several weeks ago that his company “really knew that it was a carbon copy of our game”.
Masherah highlighted the difficult situation his company was now in, given that “the boulder is already rolling downhill” in terms of Lorcana’s impending release.
He said, “We know that the gamers are heavily anticipating this product… if we were to stop the release then people are disappointed, if we let the release go, it’s our game at the end of the day.
“So we are in a bit of a conundrum here because we don’t want to upset the gaming community, but there’s a right and wrong.
“I’ve got a team here that developed that game, and they want to release it as their game.
He added, “Honestly I don’t know what the ideal outcome is.”
Upper Deck’s court filing says Miller “brainstormed, conceived and invented” the concept that became Rush of Ikorr at the 2018 Gaming Summit in Upper Deck’s offices, alongside other contracted game designers, Upper Deck personnel and senior management.
Upper Deck says it offered Miller the role of lead game designer in 2019, and that he worked on Rush of Ikorr for them until October 2020, when it says he informed the company he was terminating their work for hire agreement.
The complaint says,
“Throughout Miller’s time as lead game designer of Rush of Ikorr, Miller had direct access to Upper Deck’s confidential, proprietary information, including, without limitation, Rush of Ikorr draft rules, concepts, components, designs, marketing strategies, and plans for implementation.
“On information and belief, Miller maintained access to these things even after terminating his relationship with Upper Deck and used, referenced, and/or otherwise relied on them to create Lorcana for Ravensburger.”
“Either before or just after Miller terminated the Work for Hire Agreement, he began to work with Ravensburger.
“After Miller began consulting with Upper Deck on Rush of Ikorr pursuant to his agreements with Upper Deck, upon information and belief, Miller began discussing potential work for and/or employment by Ravensburger, although he concealed this fact from Upper Deck.”