We previously wrote about California Senate Bill 206, the “Fair Pay to Play Act,” back in April, and now Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed that bill into law.[1] The law becomes effective on January 1, 2023. After numerous revisions to the bill since our last post, here is a quick look at the final product.

The new Fair Pay to Play Act allows California student-athletes to earn compensation from licensing their name and image and to obtain professional representation by lawyers and agents to assist with that effort, all without losing scholarship eligibility or amateur status under the National Collegiate Athletics Association’s (NCAA) Division I and II eligibility criteria. Importantly, the law specifically prohibits colleges, athletic associations and intercollegiate conferences from paying such compensation to prospective student-athletes.
Continue Reading California’s Fair Pay to Play Act: This is Only The First Quarter

California Senate Bill 206,[1] the “Fair Pay to Play Act,” was amended again last month, and is making its way through the legislature under sponsorship by Sen. Nancy Skinner-D and Sen. Steven Bradford-D. If passed, the new law would pave the way for college athletes in California to earn compensation—including a stipend or other financial incentive from the college itself—for licensing their name, image, or likeness. The law would also allow athletes to obtain legal representation in connection with their participation in college sports, all while maintaining scholarship eligibility and amateurism under the National Collegiate Athletics Association’s (NCAA) Division I and II eligibility criteria.[2]
Continue Reading Faces and Names: Modern Issues in Athlete Publicity Licensing

Sponsorship rights are a critical component of the revenue stream for almost every major venue in the United States. Long-term sponsorship deals not only provide much of the funding for new venues to be built, but they also support the refurbishments that allow existing venues to retain tenants and attract short-term residents, such as concerts, sporting events and tournaments. Sponsorship spending in North America alone came to a staggering $23.1 billion in 2017, an increase from the 2016 figure of $22.3 billion. Most of this sponsorship cash flows to and from venues in major cities. One example out of many is Los Angeles, which is home to a multitude of venues supported by an even wider array of long-term sponsors. Los Angeles recently hosted the 2018 NBA All-Star Game and the 2018 NCAA Men’s Basketball Western Regional Semifinals. The city is now gearing up for additional high profile events, such as the 2020 MLB All-Star Game, Super Bowl LVI and the 2028 Summer Olympics, along with related ancillary events. The Los Angeles market is currently undergoing a period of intense growth, as indicated by the construction of new, state of the art venues, such as the Ram’s stadium at Hollywood Park, the Banc of California Stadium for the LAFC, and (potentially) a new stadium for the Clippers. The abundance of venues both new and old is a clear sign that even more high-profile events will be coming to LA in the years to come. These popular events – both those already scheduled and those yet-to-be-planned – present venue owners with additional hosting opportunities, making it essential to have flexibility in existing long-term sponsorship agreements.
Continue Reading Winning the Gold: Why Venue Owners Need to Consider the Importance of Flexibility in Sponsorship Agreements

On Tuesday, January 12, the NFL owners voted 30–2 to formally approve the relocation of the St. Louis Rams to Los Angeles, which concluded a hostile, multiple-year-long review process that ultimately deprives the city of St. Louis of its beleaguered NFL franchise that has called that city home since 1995. Also in Tuesday’s vote, NFL owners approved the possible relocation of the San Diego Chargers to Los Angeles to share a new stadium with the Rams.  Chargers owner Dean Spanos has one year to decide whether to move the team or stay in San Diego and attempt to construct a new stadium there, where efforts have, thus far, been wholly unsuccessful.
Continue Reading St. Louis Rams’ Relocation to Los Angeles Sets Stage for Colossal Stadium Naming Rights Agreement

By Ryan Hilbert

Following on the heels of New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow’s attempt to register the trademark "Tebowing," Baltimore Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs’ attempt to register the trademark "Ball So Hard University," and New York Knicks phenom Jeremy Lin’s attempt to register the trademark "Linsanity," it appears that another high-profile athlete, former University of Kentucky basketball standout and consensus No. 1 NBA draft pick Anthony Davis, is now getting into the trademark business.


Continue Reading A Slam Dunk For Trademarking Sports Catchphrases

By Ryan Hilbert

Baltimore Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs may be fast on the field. But it’s too bad he wasn’t faster to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

During the telecast of a game between Suggs’ Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers on Nov. 6, 2011, Suggs referred to his alma mater, Arizona State University, as “Ball So Hard University.” This phrase immediately caught on, and three days later Suggs appeared at a press conference wearing a T-shirt with “Ball So Hard University” printed on the front. The only problem was that Suggs didn’t create or sell the shirt himself; he bought it from someone on the Internet.


Continue Reading Losing The Race To Trademark Sports Catchphrases

The end of the collective bargaining agreement between a professional sports league and the players association that represents the athletes triggers a series of dominos: The players go on strike, the league implements a lock-out of the players, the parties meet over the course of several weeks to try to negotiate a new deal, both sides posture (with the league cautioning that pre-season and regular season games will be cancelled and the players association threatening to decertify as a union if a new agreement cannot be reached), the league files an unfair labor practice complaint with the National Labor Relations Board coupled with a declaratory judgment action in U.S. district court seeking a ruling that the lock-out is a legitimate negotiation tactic under the labor laws, the union decertifies and files its own lawsuit claiming that the league’s lockout constitutes price-fixing and an illegal group boycott in violation of the antitrust laws, and fans brace for lost games.
Continue Reading Losing Games: Player Strikes Adversely Affect Sponsorship Agreements

It’s that time of year again. College campuses around the country are buzzing, co-workers are whispering about office pools, and “bracketology” is the popular science of the day. The NCAA men’s basketball tournament season, aka “March Madness,” has begun. To tap into the vast media audiences generated by the NCAA Tournament (the “Tournament”), ambush marketers have started populating the market with basketball-themed promotional materials. There is little doubt that ambush marketers can legally draw on generic basketball symbols and complimentary imagery to tie into the excitement surrounding the Tournament without exposing themselves to a meaningful risk of liability to the NCAA as the Tournament operator. But what about using the phrase “March Madness”?
 


Continue Reading March Madness Isn’t for Everyone

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (“NCAA”) profits handsomely from the increasingly lucrative collegiate licensing and merchandising market— estimated to be worth $4 billion annually. Yet, current and former NCAA athletes


Continue Reading In re NCAA Student-Athlete Name & Likeness Licensing Litigation: Former Athletes Seek A Share Of NCAA Licensing Profits