Wednesday, November 26, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Bucks Co. Skee-ball maker, Brooklyn skee-ball league face off in legal battle

Siblings Michael Sladek (above left) & Eilleen Graham with Graham´s son, Joey, are Skee-Ball executives. (ALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ/Staff photographer)
Siblings Michael Sladek (above left) & Eilleen Graham with Graham's son, Joey, are Skee-Ball executives. (ALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ/Staff photographer)

What's the difference between skee-ball and Skee-ball?

Apparently, no one knows for sure. But a federal court battle bubbling under the surface of public interest since 2011 may finally be ready to answer that question.

A Skee-ball (or skee-ball?) league in Brooklyn, N.Y.,  that since 2005 has provided an outlet for adults interested in playing the century-old game — while imbibing — is locked in a legal quarrel with a Chalfont, Pa., company called Skee-ball Inc.

Skee-ball Inc., which owns a trademark for the term "Skee-ball," is one of the oldest makers of the aim-and-throw game made popular on New Jersey Boardwalks after a Philadelphian invented it in 1909.

The Bucks County company and the Brooklyn league, puntastically called Brewskee-Ball, are suing each other over use of the term Skee-ball (or skee-ball?).

The organizers of Brewskee-ball this week started a fundraising campaign to pay for its legal fees. They are asking for donations totaling $100,000 through an online campaign. As of 7 p.m. Wednesday, the campaign had received $9,388 from 49 donors.

"In 2011, Skee-Ball, Inc., filed a lawsuit against us in the the Northern District of California, attempting to cancel our trademark and receive damages for unfair competition. We filed a motion to transfer the case to the Eastern District of New York, which we won. We also filed a lawsuit against Skee-Ball, Inc., claiming that their trademark is generic and should be canceled," the group wrote on their fundraising site. "After many months of costly but ineffective mediation, we were unable to reach a fair agreement. Now we're finally heading to trial — and we need your help to continue funding this lawsuit and stand up to Skee-Ball, Inc."

A lawyer for Skee-ball Inc. told the Intelligencer of Doylestown that the family business is the original maker of the Boardwalk classic and is simply protecting its trademark.

"The (trademark) itself was registered in 1928. Along comes Brewskee-Ball, and unbeknownst to Skee-Ball, they went and asked the Trademark Office for a trademark," attorney Richard Idell said the paper. "There's a rule that you can't be granted a trademark that contains somebody else's trademark. And the word 'Brewskee-Ball' by its nature contains that mark."


Contact Brian X. McCrone at 215-854-2267 or bmccrone@philly.com. Follow @brianxmccrone on Twitter.

Contact the Breaking News Desk at 215-854-2443; BreakingNewsDesk@philly.com. Follow @phillynews on Twitter.

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