May 8, 2014 / 4:30 PM / 4 years ago

New York game league Brewskee-Ball fights trademark case

NEW YORK (Reuters) - There’s a fierce Skee-Ball competition underway, but this particular battle is playing out in federal court rather than on a carnival midway.

A New York-based game league calling itself Brewskee-Ball on Thursday was calling for donations to help it pay its legal expenses in a trademark infringement lawsuit brought by Skee-Ball Inc, the Chaflont, Pennsylvania-based company that owns the trademark for the game, in which a ball is rolled up a ramp and into a series of concentric rings.

The Brewskee-Ball bar league began putting Skee-Ball games in bars in New York’s Brooklyn borough about eight years ago, league founder Eric Pavony said. It has since expanded to Austin, San Francisco and Wilmington.

Its move to trademark its own name ran afoul of the game’s manufacturer.

“You can’t be granted a trademark that includes somebody else’s trademark,” said Richard Idell, an attorney for Skee-Ball Inc, which trademarked the name in 1928. “We filed a lawsuit to cancel their mark on the grounds that the trademark office had made a mistake.”

Brewskee-Ball has started an online campaign to raise money to battle the lawsuit and pursue its own countersuit, saying “skee-ball” is a general name for the game.

“There is no way to say ‘skee-ball’ other than to say ‘skee-ball,'” Brewskee-Ball said on its fundraising website. “Simply put, that’s the definition of a generic trademark.”

Efforts at mediation have failed, both sides said.

“The Skee-Ball company is a mom-and-pop outfit,” Idell said. “This is not Chevron, AT&T or Walmart trying to push out some small company.”

Reporting by Victoria Cavaliere; Editing by Scott Malone and Andrew Hay

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