Skee-Ball Manufacturer Sues Williamsburg Skee-Ball Bar for Trademark Infringement

By Joseph Mandour on January 5, 2012

Skee Ball Orange County – Skee-Ball Inc., the Pennsylvania-based manufacturer of the popular arcade game Skee-Ball, is suing Eric Pavony and Evan Tobias, owners of the Full Circle Bar, for trademark infringement. It appears that the trademark infringement claim is stemming from the Full Circle Bar’s popularity of its Brewskee-Ball League.

The trademark infringement claim comes as a surprise to Full Circle owners. Founded in 2005, the Full Circle Bar obtained permission from Skee-Ball Inc. in a meeting with the company’s CEO to use the Skee-Ball games at its establishment. The bar became such a popular hangout for the arcade game-loving locals, that Full Circle also founded a “Brewskee-Ball” League that same year.

According to court documents, Skee-Ball Inc. contacted Pavony and Tobias in 2010, expressing interest in working with them and further developing the popularity of Brewskee-Ball. Subsequently, the two parties entered into a confidentiality agreement to discuss the potential collaboration, however, just a month later, Pavony and Tobias were served with a cease and desist letter. According to the letter, Skee-Ball Inc. claimed that Pavony and Tobias were violating its trademark on the word skee-ball.

The attorney representing the owners of the Full Circle bar maintains that the bar “is not infringing on any valid Skee-Ball trademark.” He added, “And there is no other way to describe a skee-ball machine that a normal person would understand, except to call it a skee-ball machine. So to have a company basically claim that you can’t call the machines you own by their name is not legally proper, and it’s not even good business.”

Skee-ball, one of the first ticket redemption games, is similar to bowling only it is played on an inclined lane with its player aiming to get the wood ball to fall in the hole rather than knock down pins. The objective in skee-ball is to collect as many points by landing the balls into the designated point value holes. The tickets awarded in the game are redeemed to purchase stuffed animals and other novelty items at the arcade.

In response to the complaint, Full Circle’s attorney has filed a motion to have the lawsuit dismissed, arguing that the bar’s use “constitutes fair use…particularly because Full Circle has only owned and used skee-ball games manufactured by Skee-Ball Inc..”

The extent of damages that Skee-Ball Inc. is seeking is unclear, as is the reason for the trademark infringement complaint while in the midst with the Brewskee-Ball collaboration. A source familiar with the case said that the cease and desist letter came shortly after Skee-Ball Inc. hired a marketing consultant based in San Francisco, where the lawsuit was eventually filed.

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