The makers (and legal copyright holders) of Skee-Ball games have decided they are no longer kosher with a national drinking and rolling league. After nine years, the nearly century-old Skee-Ball Inc. is suing the Brewskee-ball league for trademark infringement. And the Brewskees are fighting back.
Brewskee-ball has been operating under that name since at least 2005, when the Brooklyn-based outfit says they met with Skee-Ball Inc.'s CEO to discuss joining forces. At the time, the company passed on a partnership, but the founders claim the company implied it had no problem with the league, which now operates at bars in New York, Austin, Wilmington and San Francisco. In 2010, well after the league had gained popularity, the group got note from Skee-Ball's attorney's claiming the league was "exploiting" their trademark. The company later filed to suit in a U.S. District Court in San Francisco, claiming they never gave the league permission to use the name.
Now the high rollers from the league, whose local chapter meets at the Buckshot in the Richmond, have launched a crowd-sourced countersuit called "Skee The People" to fight back against Big Skee-ball and to dissolve the Philadelphia company's right to the name.
“We believe that there is no other way to say ‘Skee-Ball’ except ‘Skee-Ball.’" Brewskee-Ball co-founder Eric Pavony told the Chronicle. "There’s lots of other people who agree with us. It’s kind of what the universe wants right now."
Or, as two-time national Brewskee-ball champion and local arcade game entrepreneur Joey the Cat tells SFist: "the name is generic in the sense that you can't call the game anything else and have someone understand what you're talking about. People regularly call games that aren't actual Skee-Ball Inc. machines 'Skee-ball'"
The case has now been handed over to a federal magistrate in New York, but Pavony is baffled by a lawsuit over what is basically a free promotion of a vintage boardwalk attraction. “All we’ve been doing is beautiful, positive stuff for the brand Skee-Ball," Pavony said. "We’ve re-invented what was always thought of as just a distant childhood memory."