Kevin Dineen – Cartamundi
Non-fungible tokens. QR codes. Batman-branded digital trading cards. For a playing card purveyor formed in Belgium more than 50 years ago, Cartamundi is up with the times.
That’s provided lots of work for Kevin Dineen, the company’s vice president of legal for North America. As he explains, each innovation is supported by intellectual property enforcement and data privacy procedures.
For instance, there was the partnership with Warner Bros. on Batman-branded Hro hybrid trading cards. Dineen’s team supported Hro with the launch—handling everything from data privacy obligations in the expanding list of jurisdictions where they’ve introduced the cards to ensuring the hybrid cards were appropriately marketed as collectibles rather than investments or securities.
Once the hybrid cards launched, consumers could scan a QR code on the physical card and view the card’s digital twin on the Hro platform online. The product functions both as a physical card and an NFT, or nonfungible token, that is a unique digital copy.
“There are a lot of different laws and regulations that we had to navigate—you have, obviously, the IP issues, but then also securities, crypto, data privacy and others,” Dineen says. “There are going to be additional brands that we start working with, but the initial launch was a success.”
Best-in-class data privacy protections
Another recent launch was the direct-to-consumer website BicycleCards.com, which updates the nearly 150-year-old brand to feature a World of Warcraft bundle, a “Back to the Future” deck, a Shin Lim deck complete with QR codes and soon to be released co-branded decks with a global entertainment brand.
“As we evolve as an organization, what we’re doing is really beginning to leverage technology more,” Dineen says. “Understandably, as you begin to collect more consumer data, you face increasing complexity from a compliance standpoint.”
Dineen has two priorities on this front: making sure employee data is safe and consumer data is secure. He and his team have collaborated with the IT group and other internal stakeholders to develop a data incident response plan and other “must haves” for companies collecting consumer data. Cartamundi owns prominent brands such as Bicycle, and its consumers expect privacy.
“That is something that is not optional,” Dineen says. “If you’re not ready in this environment, you are putting the reputation of your brands at risk.”
As Cartamundi grows, it’s a bigger target for regulators, who will scrutinize it more closely the more consumer data it siphons up, and for bad actors, who are looking to swipe that data for their own ends. So, Dineen must ensure the company complies with a global patchwork of data privacy laws, including the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation, the California Consumer Privacy Act and the other recently introduced state privacy laws in Virginia, Utah, Connecticut and Colorado.
A bifurcated approach
Intellectual property enforcement is another big part of Dineen’s job. A company like Cartamundi—with brands like Bicycle, Bee and Hro—has a lot of exposure to IP infringement, be it online marketplaces selling imitation Bicycle decks or overseas manufacturing companies producing thousands of counterfeit Bee decks.
Dineen sees infringement activity every day, much of it online but some of it in the form of manufactured counterfeit products. As a result, he’s adopted a bifurcated response to infringement. Prong one is online enforcement: proactively monitoring with the help of external partners like Corsearch, then actively enforcing.
In the two years since Dineen joined the company, Cartamundi has filed numerous lawsuits against online infringers. These are actors selling infringing products on Amazon, eBay, Wish or other online marketplaces.
Prong two involves going after manufacturing companies that are churning out counterfeit products. Dineen says Cartamundi is currently in the process of pursuing some larger targets involved in these activities. He and his team are investigating right now; they’ll be taking further legal action with the help of external partners in the coming months.
“We’ve been becoming very aggressive, which you have to be, as a company with iconic brands,” he says. “If you’re not aggressive, you’re going to be taken advantage of. And the other advantage of being aggressive is that the infringers take notice. That community is very secretive, but they also recognize when there’s a lot of enforcement activity, and so it sends the right message.”
The road to Cartamundi
When he joined Cartamundi in 2021, Dineen came full circle; he’d started his career in 2000 in marketing at the U.S. Playing Card Company, which became part of Cartamundi in 2019. Today, Dineen’s days are not all compliance and enforcement. He also enjoys working with colleagues he says are entrepreneurial and creative.
“It’s a really fun, innovative environment,” he says. “It draws people who like to come into an organization and share their ideas, who are interested in that collaboration, interested in growing with cross-functional teams.”
Dineen started at Miami University, earning his B.S. in marketing and later completing a mini-MBA program. In 2005, he earned his J.D. from University of Cincinnati College of Law. After law school, he joined Cors & Bassett, where he practiced in its mergers and acquisitions department for seven years.
While at the law firm, Dineen had the chance to work within a company on a temporary assignment. He found he loved focusing on one client—in this case, a large payroll processing company that was then privately held.
“I got a great, hands-on experience of what [going in-house] would look like,” he says. “I really enjoyed being embedded in the business, being part of those conversations, the innovations, the new product discussions. It was really thrilling.”
That led to an in-house role at Luxottica Group (now EssilorLuxottica) in 2011. In 2017, he joined LasikPlus as general counsel and nearly four years later, he joined Cartamundi, moving to his current position in December 2022.
“Working with global colleagues in such a dynamic and rapidly evolving industry has been challenging and extremely rewarding,” Dineen says. “I’m thrilled to have this opportunity to utilize my experience and acumen to help Cartamundi continue to grow and thrive.”
View this feature in the Vanguard Spring II 2023 Edition here.
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