Family-owned Fundex Games Ltd., a Plainfield, Indiana company, is being sued for trademark infringement by Jane Ruemmele, the creator of the card game “Chronology”. While Ruemmele is a Marion County public defender she will not be representing herself in the case; she has instead hired Jonathan Polak of the Indianapolis law firm Taft Stettinius & Hollister.
The suit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court of southern Indiana on March 24, 2010, lists several allegations including trademark dilution and forgery, copyright infringement, unfair competition, use of a counterfeit mark, trademark infringement and breach of contract. Reummele will seek damages, plus a judgment whereby any products bearing the Chronology trademark will be returned or destroyed.
But it appears that Reummele is not alone in her allegations. Among the licensed games sold by Fundex is a twist on the card game rummy called “Phase 10”. It just so happens that the creator of Phase 10, Kenneth Johnson of Michigan, is also suing Fundex for trademark-infringement.
There has been no comment issued by Woodard Emhardt Moritary McNett & Henry, the Indianapolis law firm representing Fundex in the Ruemmele case.
In the game Chronology players attempt figure out the correct timelines for various inventions and historical events by figuring out, for example, whether drive-ins were created before roller skating rinks. The first player to successfully place 5 events in their proper order wins the game.
Ruemmele originally licensed Chronology to Indianapolis-based Great American Puzzle Company in 1995. The contract entitled her to royalty payments in the amount of 6 percent of net sales. This was to increase to 8 percent once a benchmark of 100,000 units sold was reached. When Fundex bought Great American in October of 2007 it also acquired the licensing rights to Chronology.
The lawsuit alleges that “Fundex has sold numerous units of the card game since its acquisition of Great American” but has failed to provide any royalty payments or statements since 2008. Also in question by Ruemmele is whether Fundex paid the full amounts required under the original license.
The suit alleges that Fundex has not been forthcoming about the sales figures for Chronology. Under the original license, Great American Puzzle Company was required to provide sales records at Ruemmele’s request. Ruemmele’s attorney, Jonathan Polak, is therefore seeking an audit of Fundex sales records.
Ruemmele, according to the lawsuit, says she tried in vain to reach Fundex in an attempt to discuss extending the license that was set to expire at the end of March of 2008 or to negotiate an entirely new agreement. She alleges that Fundex was completely unresponsive to inquiries made by herself and her attorney while it continued to market and sell Chronology.
It’s not known how much Great American had earned from sales of the game prior to its acquisition by Fundex. It is believed, however, that the game sold quite well. Ruemmele had twice renewed her contract with Great American in 2000 and 2007. It was not long thereafter that Fundex bought Great American.