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Disney Lorcana launch threatened by Upper Deck lawsuit

It alleges publisher Ravensburger and co-designer Ryan Miller stole its intellectual property

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Disney Lorcana art (not card) for confirmed character Mickey Mouse (as the Sorceror’s Apprentice) Image: Ravensburger
Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

The pending launch of Ravensburger’s Disney Lorcana trading card game is now threatened by an explosive new lawsuit issued by The Upper Deck Company. In the 19-page complaint, issued today to a California court, the rival publisher alleges that co-designer Ryan Miller previously created a similar game that is “nearly identical” to Disney Lorcana while under contract with Upper Deck. In addition to other requests for relief, Upper Deck is asking a judge for an injunction that would halt the release of Disney Lorcana, currently expected at this year’s Gen Con convention in August.

The game Upper Deck says it paid Miller to design is called Rush of Ikorr. It has not yet been released. Players are said to take on the role of gods, such as those once worshipped by ancient Greeks and indigenous Mesoamericans. The complaint goes into great detail to prove its claims that Disney Lorcana and Rush of Ikorr have the same or similar mechanics. It also calls into question Miller and Ravensburger’s intent with regard to sourcing the rules for their own game. From the complaint:

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. [...]

Rather than allow Miller to honor the Agreements and their terms, Upper Deck is informed and believes that Ravensburger induced and intended for Miller to breach his obligations so that it could capitalize on Miller’s knowledge of the elements of the Rush of Ikorr game so he could make a near-identical game for it. This allowed Ravensburger to gain a competitive advantage, an accelerated launch, and bring a nearly identical TCG to market under a different brand.

The complaint goes on to demand punitive damages, restitution, “injunctive relief enjoining Ravensburger from publicly releasing Lorcana,” and more. In April, the company also filed a patent application for Rush of Ikorr.

“We invested significant time and resources to develop a new and novel trading card game,” said Upper Deck President Jason Masherah in a news release shared with Polygon. “Our current leadership values the importance of protecting intellectual property of both Upper Deck and its licensors.”

“We encourage competition in the industry,” Masherah continued, “but also strongly believe in playing by the rules to ensure the gaming community benefits from the different creative choices by each manufacturer.”

Polygon has reached out to Ravensburger and Miller for comment.

Disney Lorcana was announced in August 2022. The family-friendly TCG is aiming for a fairly wide audience, and its relatively bloodless gameplay stands in stark contrast to the product described by Upper Deck. The first set of Disney Lorcana cards was released at the D23 fan convention in September, leading almost immediately to a burst of speculation on the secondary market. Only later, in April 2023, were the rules revealed to the public via an inadvertent leak in a trade magazine. Polygon later covered those rules in detail, alongside an interview with Miller. A public demo of Disney Lorcana was recently conducted at the U.K. Games Expo 2023.

We have included a copy of the full complaint below as an embed.

The Upper Deck Company v. Ryan Miller and Ravensburger North America by Polygondotcom on Scribd

Update (June 8): Following the publication of this article, a representative from Ravensburger told Polygon that they had yet to be served with the complaint.

“Ravensburger has not been served with a complaint and thus cannot speculate on potential legal matters,” the representative wrote. “We at Ravensburger stand behind the integrity of our team and the originality of our products.”

Update (June 9): Ravensburger has now provided a more complete response to Polygon.

“We at Ravensburger stand behind the integrity of our team and the originality of our products,” Lisa Krueger, senior communications director at Ravensburger North America, said in an email. “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.”

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