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Welcome back to the "Spotlight" – this being the very first and certainly not the last of Summer 2022.  That’s right, folks. Although I expect my readership numbers to swoon to “spouse-and-blood-relative” levels, I will still be the proverbial tree falling in the forest as I churn out the content on the off chance that there will be eyeballs to read it. Although the weather has been unseasonably cool here on the East Coast, temperatures seem to be reaching a metaphorical boiling point for the Washington Commanders’ owner Dan Snyder, as he appears poised to be subpoenaed by the House Oversight Committee investigating allegations of rampant workplace misconduct within the Commanders’ organization and a subsequent sham investigation seemingly accepted by the NFL. Should Snyder comply with the subpoena, he will do so on the heels of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell having been grilled yesterday. And if Goodell’s experience is any indication of how intense it could get for Snyder, he better lather up in SPF 100 to withstand the Congressional spotlight. For you all, a kinder, more jovial "Spotlight" follows:    

    • No amount of glowing skin could shield Hailey Bieber’s skincare company Rhode (also Bieber’s middle name) from being haled into court to answer trademark infringement claims by an established fashion brand of the same name (Rhode). Of course, who could forget trademark specialist William Shakespeare’s time-honored words, “a Rhode by any other name would sound as sweet”?

    • Perhaps clearing the way for greater acceptance of cannabis-derived products, Major League Baseball became the first major sports league to allow teams to enter into sponsorship deals with cannabidiol (CBD) companies, provided that the companies’ products are certified by the NSF International as not containing detectable levels of the psychoactive compound tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Translation: OMG the MLB said OK to CBD.

    • South Korean entertainment company and creators of “Baby Shark,” Pinkfong, launches a new NFT project based on (what else?) "Baby Shark." Apologies to those of you whose memories of listening to that song on repeat were just dredged up.   

The Largest College Admissions Bribery Scandal Erupted in the United States With a Number of Celebrities as Targets

In the early weeks of March, news broke of the largest college admissions scandal in the country's history, nicknamed "Operation Varsity Blues".  At least 40 people were charged with conspiracy to commit mail fraud and honest services mail fraud for their alleged participation in the scheme. Among those charged was actress, Lori Loughlin, who is most famous for her role as Aunt Becky on ABC's hit sitcom series Full House. Charges against her allege that, in order to get her children into the University of Southern California ("USC"), Loughlin paid $500,000 to have her daughters designated as crew recruits, although it is reported that they did not participate in that sport. One day after 14 parties involved in the scheme agreed to plead guilty, 16 parents, including Loughlin and her husband, were charged in a second indictment for conspiring to commit fraud and money laundering. Loughlin has refused to plead guilty and plans to fight these charges.

Sports Fan unhappyBenjamin Riesenberg is a former Garvey Schubert Barer legal extern who worked out of the firm’s New York office. He was a law student at Brooklyn Law School.

As the popularity of fantasy sports grows, so do the legal issues surrounding the industry.  The main legal challenges facing fantasy sports have been centered on the issue of whether pay-to-play fantasy sports contests constitute illegal gambling.  In 2006, Congress passed The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (“UIGEA”), which created certain guidelines for fantasy sports.  For a pay-to-play fantasy sports contest to be legal under the UIGEA, the fantasy sports game must have a result that is predominantly based on the knowledge of participants as opposed to mere chance.

The National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) ruled on March 26, 2014 that Northwestern University football players who receive scholarships from the University are employees of the University and are eligible to unionize.

The NLRB cited several reasons for its decision, including that the University benefits from the players’ services through the compensation it receives for those services in the form of advertising, sponsorships, media buys, ticket sales, etc.  Additionally, it found that the University controls how and when the players perform their services and that these football players receive compensation for their services in the form of scholarships. The NLRB determined that football players receiving scholarships from the University are not “primarily students” and that their activities are rather economic ones that benefit the school.

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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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