Trump card game doesn’t infringe Cards Against Humanity, suit says

May 18, 2016

WESTLAW JOURNAL Cards Against Humanity, a self-described “game for horrible people,” would never be confused with Humanity Hates Trump, a card game with quotes from presidential hopeful Donald Trump, according to a trade dress suit filed in a Connecticut federal court.

Humanity Hates Trump creator SCS Direct Inc. asks the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut to declare that the Trump game does not violate the Lanham Act or Cards Against Humanity LLC’s common law trade dress rights.

On cardsagainsthumanity.com, the Chicago-based company describes its product as a game that’s as “despicable and awkward as you and your friends.” Various online media call the game “offensive” and “as politically incorrect as possible.”

According to the rules, players distribute Cards Against Humanity cards randomly, with one person asking a question from a black card while other players answer with “their funniest white card.”

The black cards ask questions such as “What do old people smell like?” or “War! What is it good for?” or offer fill-in-the-blank sentences such as “Life for American Indians was forever changed when the White Man introduced them to ______.”

White cards have responses such as “dwarf tossing,” “police brutality,” and “Asians who aren’t good at math.”

According to Trumbull, Connecticut-based SCS’ website, humanityhatestrump.com, during its game, players answer questions on black cards with white cards featuring their favorite “Trump quotes.”

While the Trump playing cards also use a black-and-white color scheme, SCS says that is where the similarities with Cards Against Humanity end.

“[Cards Against Humanity] is not a game in the political space and is unrelated to the 2016 presidential election,” the complaint says.

Kicked off Kickstarter

Earlier this year, SCS attempted to raise money for the Trump game through Kickstarter.com, which promotes itself as a “funding platform for creative projects,” according to the complaint.

Raising seven times more than the initial funding goal, SCS gained media attention and was ready to sell the Trump game in April, the suit says.

Meanwhile, Cards Against Humanity asked SCS to remove a tag line and change the font on its packaging, according to the complaint.

SCS complied, the suit says.

Cards Against Humanity also asked SCS to change the colors of the Trump cards, but SCS refused, according to the complaint.

“Along with Humanity Hates Trump and Cards Against Humanity, there are a multitude of playing cards games with black and white cards,” the complaint says, adding that Cards Against Humanity has no trademark or trade dress registrations for playing cards.

When Cards Against Humanity cried infringement, Kickstarter removed the Trump game from its website “to avoid becoming entangled in an intellectual property dispute,” the suit says.

SCS then filed its declaratory action.

Other black-and-white card games

The suit lists numerous other games with black-and-white playing cards, including Carbs of the Huge Manatee, Guards Against Insanity, Words Against Morality and Cats Abiding Horribly.

SCS seeks a declaration of non-infringement of Cards Against Humanity’s trademark and trade dress rights and a statement saying it has not violated Section 43 of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C.A. §1125.

The suit also says Cards Against Humanity violated Connecticut’s unfair trade practices law, Conn. Gen. Stat. § 42, causing SCS to suffer monetary and proprietary losses.

In addition to the court declaration, SCS seeks punitive and exemplary damages, injunctive relief, attorney fees and costs.

SCS Direct Inc. v. Cards Against Humanity LLC, No. 16-cv-670, complaint filed, 2016 WL 1726563 (D. Conn. Apr. 29, 2016).