Welcome back to the "Sports & Entertainment Spotlight," your 30,000 foot view of the various goings-on in the sports and entertainment industries. This week, I am writing from, well, 30,000 feet flying cross country to soak up all that Seattle has to offer (not the least of which being raindrops) for our firm’s retreat. Amidst that backdrop comes news of the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Division I Board of Directors’ seemingly returning from its retreat and offering “guidance” about the name, image and likeness (NIL) collectives popping up throughout the country. Seeking to address the concern that these collectives are being used to skirt NCAA rules against providing financial benefits in return for committing to play sports at the collectives’ preferred universities, the NCAA has, for the first time in nearly 10 months since its interim NIL rules came down, spoken — rather ambiguously, on the topic. They claim that past instances may be enforced depending on severity, but in characteristic fashion, have remained vague on what exactly that means. What’s more, were the NCAA to take action, it is like that it would find itself right back in the court system litigating antitrust issues. Again, it did not all have to be like this, but after years of inaction, the NCAA is sleeping in the bed that it made for itself. It is looking more likely that Congress will have to take up the mantle to provide definitive direction, but in an election year, we may have to wait until next term for any legislation to come up for vote. Fortunately, the Spotlight moves quicker (and is much less dysfunctional) than Congress:
- Nickelodeon is set to broadcast a National Football League game on Christmas Day. My humble suggestion is that they brand it as the “Most Wonderful Slime of the Year.” My not so humble suggestion is that if Nickelodeon uses that, they should provide me with four tickets to that game.
- Those of you concerned about Tom Brady’s financial security when (if?) he eventually retires from the NFL can cancel your plans for fundraising bake (unlikely to have been TB12-approved anyway) breathe a sigh of relief, as he stands to make $375 million over 10 seasons as Fox Sports’ NFL broadcaster. About time that guy caught a break.
- Formula 1 racing continues its rise to popularity, bringing out celebrities en masse to the Inaugural Miami Grand Prix on par with the number of celebrities in attendance at the Kentucky Derby – though the latter lacked significantly less horsepower than the former.
With the Super Bowl coming up, it is important for brands looking to capitalize on football-themed promotions to remember that the terms “Super Bowl” and “Super Sunday” are registered trademarks guarded by the National Football League (NFL) more closely than a shutdown corner on a wide receiver. Because there is a fine line between permissible fair uses of Super Bowl and Super Sunday (e.g., in on-air banter and news and sports reports) and impermissible promotional uses that may infringe the NFL’s trademark, here are some guidelines to keep you from going “offsides:”
In a 2-1 ruling last Wednesday, June 18, the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) of the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) resolved an opposition proceeding in favor of five Native American plaintiffs who sought to cancel six trademark registrations that contain the word REDSKINS and are owned by Pro Football, Inc., the owners of the National Football League’s Washington, D.C. team.
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