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Posts from September 2022.

Welcome back to the "Spotlight!' In this crazy world, if there’s one thing that makes sense, it’s that nothing makes sense. LeBron James seems to have joined the same bandwagon as my parents and taken an interest in pickleball. For those uninitiated to the sport, picture a tennis court—then shrink it, and with paddles larger than for ping pong, but smaller than for tennis. Oh, and a brightly colored wiffleball in lieu of furry neon ball. Unlike my parents, however, LeBron, through his venture fund, has purchased a stake in a professional pickleball team. Given that LeBron’s bread and butter is basketball, it might seem as if he’s gherkin us around with a half-sour investment, but in point of fact, pickleball is one of the fastest growing sports in the world and has taken the interest of many other high-profile investors. Speaking of pickles, former NFL quarterback Brett Favre finds himself in one as allegations of his misappropriating Mississippi (there, I spelled it) state welfare funds continue to mount against him. So far, no criminal charges have been brought against Favre, but the court of public opinion is decidedly against him. Turns out that a reverse Robin Hood multimillionaire taking money away from poor people is not exactly the type of story one would want to cast them in a favorable (Favre-ble?) spotlight.

    • Saudi Sovereign Wealth Fund-backed LIV Golf is forced to buy airtime from Fox Sports. Usually, it’s the league from which the network buys airtime – not the other way around. Then again, golf is a sport in which the lowest score wins, so perhaps we should view this move in that light.
    • As cryptocurrency exchange company Crypto.com can attest, here’s no denying the marketing power of sports sponsorship. In that regard, it makes sense that a new investment app called Scout, would be seeking name, image and likeness (NIL) deals on college campuses in an effort to fuel college student sign-ups. Then again, free pizza also goes a long way.
    • Maybe it is the headwinds from the world economy, but the market for NFTs has drastically cooled off. In a related story, Melania Trump is selling Christmas NFTs.

Welcome back to the Spotlight and to the best season, Autumn (nine out of 10 dentists agree). The Sun is setting earlier and the mercury in our thermometers is falling. Ironically, majority owner of the NBA’s Phoenix Suns and WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury franchises, Robert Sarver appears to be in the midst of a sunset and falling of his own. Indeed, one week after being smacked down with a $10 million dollar fine and one year ban on NBA and WNBA activities after an independent investigation revealed a systemic pattern of sexual harassment and racially-charged language in the Suns and Mercury front office, Sarver appears to be succumbing to public pressure to do what many believe should have been forced upon him by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver: sell the franchises. Whether the impetus for this action was some sort of intervention by fellow owners, Sarver’s coming to grips with his conscience, or maybe even the realization that sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace is…not great for business, the decision to sell the teams is shocking, but not surprising. Most perplexing, however, is how and why this history—not unique to the world of sportskeeps repeating itself. As it is said, pride comes before the fall, just as wordplay comes before (and during) the Spotlight:

    • Cashback rebate company Ibotta re-ups its jersey sponsorship deal with the New Orleans Pelicans. Too bad Abbott and Costello aren’t around to do an “Ibotta jersey” routine.
    • Kanye “Ye” West terminates his YEEZY Gap partnership deal with Gap, Inc. that was supposed to have been a long-term fruitful partnership for the pair. Sounds like the perfect opening for a Gap x Pete Davidson deal.
    • Originally a star of the 2000s, Christina Aguilera is keeping up with the times by filing for NFT and metaverse-oriented trademarks. The applications are likely to withstand U.S. Patent and Trademark Office scrutiny, on account of they are beautiful in every single way, and words cannot bring them down.

Welcome back to the "Spotlight!" One of the many peculiarities of the English language is the phrase, “family business.” The phrase can refer to a business that is owned and/or operated by several family members. It can also refer to private matters generally dealt with amongst family members. More recently, in the sports world, “family” and “business” seem to have been colliding. A few weeks ago, NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal’s brand management firm, Authentic Brands Group, opposed a trademark application by his son, Shaqir O’Neal’s representatives on the grounds that a trademark for Shaqir O’Neal would cause a likelihood of confusion with the elder O’Neal’s trademark for “Shaquille O’Neal.” This of course fits with Shaquille’s championing a work ethic to his children—“we ain’t rich, I’m rich.” For the famous parents out there, if it was not hard enough to agree with one’s partner on a baby son or daughter’s name, it seems you might also be wise to involve a trademark attorney in those discussions. Not to be outdone, after encountering difficulty obtaining a trademark registration for his name, NBA star Luka Doncic is embroiled in a dispute with his mother over her continued ownership of the registration for the trademark LUKA DONCIC7 (which was cited by the United States Patent and Trademark Office as grounds for its registration refusal). The rub is that the trademark, LUKA DONCIC7 was previously obtained with Doncic’s consent. Doncic is seeking to revoke that consent and to argue that the registration should be cancelled both on those grounds and due to non-use. Peering into my crystal ball, the most likely winners in these sagas will be lawyers…and therapists. I guess such is life when your family business gets aired in the "Spotlight."

    • Jack Daniel’s and McLaren Racing toast to an F1 sponsorship deal, because nothing goes together better than Tennessee whiskey and driving at 200 miles per hour.
    • Major League Soccer club Real Salt Lake City inks a stadium naming rights deal with America First Credit Union, rebranding the Utah stadium, “America First Field” to the tune of about $100 million. With that money, the Club will be able to erect a wall around the borders of the field.
    • With a trademark filing for NFT-backed music, Sony Music Entertainment looks poised to separate itself from the pack and find new ways to separate consumers from their money with a pivot towards Web3 and the Metaverse.

Welcome back to a pumpkin spice flavored edition of the "Spotlight." With the summer coming to an unofficial end, it’s time to put away your white clothing, dust off your flannels and settle into the crisp, cozy season that is autumn. And that can mean only one thing: football is back. And the powers that be are banking on yours, mine and hundreds of millions of others’ eyeballs taking in games on Saturdays and Sundays…and Mondays. And Thursdays. Oh, and sometimes on Fridays. After all, what else could explain the billions of dollars spent by major television networks to secure media rights for televising college football and National Football League games, and advertisers buying millions of dollars of airtime for a Superbowl spotlight.

    • With the help of high-profile placements during the NFL season, sports drink brand Gatorade is rolling out a new sugar-free, caffeine-packed energy drink called “Fast Twitch,” which is incidentally exactly what you’ll be doing if you drink too many.
    • NBA Superstar Steph Curry makes a splash in publishing, hoping to fill shopping baskets as ably as he does arena baskets.
    • The Estates of two music icons – David Bowie and Elvis Presley appear poised to take their legacies to the blockchain with a series of NFT projects. Or at least, I think it’s Elvis.

Welcome back to the "Spotlight!" After over two and a half years, COVID-19 has finally made its way past my doorstep and throughout my home. It’s Wednesday night and I am physically and emotionally drained, I feel like I swallowed a mace and I sound like Barry White, so I will be brief. That, and I’m watching Serena in her Center Court Spotlight.

    • A non-fungible token (NFT) entitling the bearer to a beer with Bill Murray fetched the equivalent of $185,000 in Ethereum cryptocurrency for charity. At that price point for a beer, you would expect to also see a Yankees game.
    • Grocery delivery company Instacart makes a splish-splash with an ad campaign featuring recording artist Lizzo in a bathtub, creating her own plant-based shopping cart. This being the first high-profile celebrity endorsement, I guess Instacart figured that it was “About Damn Time.”
    • Pink Floyd’s song catalog is up for bidding at approximately $500 million. A gargantuan sum, that is, of course unless you play it backwards.

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The Sports, Arts & Entertainment group at Foster Garvey provides full service legal representation on sports, entertainment and business matters, including handling transactions related to brand management, licensing, joint ventures, venture capital, private equity, technology, the Internet and new media.
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