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Posts from October 2021.

Back to our regularly scheduled programming: Fresh off of my paternity leave in which feeding and putting to sleep my baby was my charge, I have the distinct privilege of resuming my commentary portion of the Spotlight. With any luck, there will be even more feeding (knowledge) and minimal sleep induction. Given the sugar rush that awaits many of us this weekend – whether it be from “quality assurance” testing a few pieces of candy from our own trick or treat bowls or being the lucky recipient of confectionary cast-offs from our children’s Halloween haul (come to me, candy corn) – that should not be a tall task. More likely to be a tall task is Cleveland’s Major League Baseball team, newly named (at least for the time being) the Cleveland Guardians defending itself from a trademark infringement claim from an earlier established roller derby team named the Cleveland Guardians. But we will be watching closely as this David v. Goliath story unfolds. And as this installment of the Spotlight continues to unfold, here’s a look at a number of the other stories going bump in the night this Halloween week:

    •  Billie Eilish is the latest celebrity to sniff out an opportunity to leverage her personal brand to make a foray into beauty products, partnering with Parlux on a new vegan and cruelty (bad guy?)-free fragrance.
    • Molten, a Boston-based media rights management startup completes a wicked awesome seed financing round with the backing of several prominent names in entertainment and media.
    • Parents: Hide your credit cards. Hasbro becomes the latest entry into the metaverse, debuting Power Rangers NFTs. 
    • Cher filed a lawsuit against her late musical partner and ex-husband Sonny Bono’s widow over the rights to many of their cherished Sonny & Cher songs. She asked the court to block the trust which handles Sonny’s estate, the Bono Collection Trust, from terminating her rights that granted her 50 percent of the royalties under their divorce settlement. Under the Copyright Act, artists can cancel distributions of their copyrights and reclaim them after 35 years. This provision has been in the spotlight given the recent heated disputes involving Marvel and Disney. Will this case be monumental in shedding light on a gloomy area of copyright law that intersects family law? Let’s see if the “Beat Goes On” for Cher.
    • Fast food and A-list-celebrities – is there any combo more alluring? Over the years, an increasing amount of major global food names have partnered with top talent to entice the public to eat at their establishment. McDonalds has recruited Travis Scott, Burger King has Nelly, Taco Bell has Lil Nas X, and most recently Megan Thee Stallion has signed a new deal with Popeyes. Her new business venture includes multiple franchise locations, a six-figure donation to Houston Acts of Kindness, her own personal branded Popeyes hot sauce, and an exclusive merch drop including bikinis, shirts, tumblers, and even plush dog toys shaped like chicken tenders. What other mouthwatering partnerships can we expect to see next?

    • NIL (name, image, likeness) continues to captivate headlines as athletes forge ahead with profit-churning ventures while still in school thanks to the NCAA’s new rules. Sedona Prince of the Oregon Ducks is a rock star as she became a sole proprietor and is building her own empire, brand along with merchandises. She has been dubbed as the official poster child for NIL, a rightfully earned title with more than 246 thousand followers on Instagram and a staggering 2.8 million on Tik Tok. Can we expect to see a lot more of these rising student athlete prodigies?
    • There has been a flurry of activities of celebrities investing in holistic wellness and health initiatives. LeBron James invests in smart home gym company Tonal. Ashton Kutcher invests in cultivated meat company MeaTech 3D to support the meat alternatives movement. Steven Van Zandt launches a wellness focused cannabis product line. Cody Rigsby partners with Chobani to promote a limited edition complete shake. As emerging health and fitness trends keep evolving, we can probably expect to see celebrities continue to promote the latest and greatest of wellness.

    • Tina Turner signed the rights of her iconic music catalogue spanning 60 years, including her name, image and likeness to a German music company, BMG. While Warner Music record label still manages her record, is this a sign of things to come for music companies who are looking to take hit makers under their wings and broaden music artists' digital reach?

    • Is NIL (name, image, likeness) picking up at warp speed? There may be a potential endorsement deal brewing between Puma and Mikey Williams, a high school basketball player who has a huge social media presence. Will we see continue to see teen athletes partnering with brands as part of their potential pro sports journey?

    • What will the “Endgame” be for the lawsuit between Walt Disney Company and former Marvel comic book creators? In the spring of this year, a host of famed artists and illustrators of Marvel characters such as Iron Man, Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, Ant-Man, Hawkeye, Black Widow, Falcon and Thor, has filed notices of copyright termination citing a provision of copyright law that grants full rights back to the authors of the work after a set period of time. Disney, who owns Marvel Entertainment, responded with a defense of “made-for-hire” workers and lawsuits seeking to invalidate the notices. So, could Disney potentially lose full ownership of the characters?
    • Does Section 230 of the Communication Decency Act protect social media sites such as Facebook from liability over misuse of user content? Maybe not so in the case of Karen Hepp vs. Facebook, which involves an unauthorized use of a Philadelphia Fox 29 co-anchor Karen Hepp’s photo on Facebook’s dating site. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit Court revived the case, ruling that Section 230 does not shield Facebook from intellectual-property related claims, such as right of publicity.
    • In a memorandum issued on Wednesday to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) regional directors and officials, NLRB General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo expressed her view that college athletes have statutory rights similar to employee rights recognized under the NLRB. Although this isn’t officially converting college athletes into employees of their schools, is this a sign of things to come?

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