Are Millennials’ TV Watching Habits Jeopardizing the Future of Sports?

Millennial sports fans are moving away from cable television and traditional sports towards online video game tournaments and other “eSports.” A study conducted by LEK Consulting revealed a “sharp generational divide” among sports fans. This divide is marked by a change in TV viewing habits between millennials (those between 18-25 years old) and those above 35. The report stipulated that millennials are spending less time watching traditional cable television, and thus, losing interest in traditional sports. As background, LEK conducted a survey of 1,500 U.S. sports fans, which showed that millennial sports fans with any interest in eSports significantly prefer their favorite eSport to traditional sports. Non-millennial sports fans reported spending 41 percent of their media time on TV, but only 9 percent of it on online TV. However, millennial ...
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Helmet Maker Riddell Free to Move Forward with Patent Infringement Litigation During PTAB Review

On Sunday, March 19, 2017, an Illinois Federal Judge denied Kranos Corporation’s and Xenith LLC’ motion to stay Riddell’s helmet patent infringement cases against them, holding that a pending Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) review does not provide an automatic stay for the two cases. As previously reported, Riddell filed two lawsuits against Kranos and Xenith in April 2016, alleging their helmet designs infringed Riddell’s patented helmet designs. While the judge presiding over the case denied Riddell’s motion to consolidate the two cases, he allowed the cases to proceed on the same discovery schedule. Both suits alleged violations of U.S. Patent Numbers 8,938,818 and 8,528,118 — entitled “Sports Helmet.” Each patent covers Riddell’s helmets basic shape and design, which includes the outer plastic shell and ventilation openings. The complaint ...
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Ex-NFL Players Argue NFL in Violation of the Controlled Substances Act: Forcing Players to Play While Injured and Hopped up on Painkillers

Retired NFL Players claiming that their teams pushed them to abuse painkillers recently filed an amended complaint alleging that doctors and trainers supplied narcotics and painkillers in order to keep the players on the field — even though “[p]layers [we]re not informed of the long-term health effects of taking controlled substances and prescription medications in the amounts given to them.” The complaint further claims that teams “maintain the return to play practice or policy by ensuring that players are not told of the health risks associated with taking [the] medications.” As background, the retired players alleged that the league and its teams placed a substantial amount of pressure on players to return to the field immediately following injuries — encouraging them to even play through their injuries while doped up ...
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NCAA Initiates Trademark Infringement Suit Against Online Game Developer Over “April Madness”

With “March Madness” upon us, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) filed suit in the Southern District of Indiana, alleging trademark infringement and unfair competition. As background, the NCAA has used the trademarks “Final Four” and “March Madness” to identify and distinguish is basketball competitions for over twenty years. The NCAA marks cover goods like duffel bags, tote bags, and telecommunication services. Notorious for protecting its right to the “Madness” name, the NCAA initiated this trademark infringement suit over online fantasy games called “April Madness.” Also, the NCAA claimed that the “Final 3” online bracket-predicting game is a blatant infringement of the NCAA’s “Final Four” trademark. The NCAA’s complaint names online game maker, Kizzang LLC and its owner, Robert Alexander, as the defendants in this suit. The defendants provide national ...
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North Carolina Lawmaker Believes NCAA and ACC Engaged in Excessive Lobbying Over HB2

While the country is busy preparing their March Madness brackets, the fight over HB2 in North Carolina continues. As previously discussed on this blog, one impact HB2 had on North Carolina was the NCAA and ACC’s decision to remove several championship events away from the state. However, one North Carolina lawmaker has recently questioned whether the NCAA and ACC violated their tax-exempt status by moving sports championships outside of North Carolina. According to the IRS, no 501(c)(3) organization may qualify for tax-exempt status if “a substantial part of its activities is attempting to influence legislation.” Such an “organization may engage, in some lobbying, but too much lobbying activity risks loss of tax-exempt status.” Mark Brody, a North Carolina House Republican, has stated that he believes the NCAA and ACC have ...
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Court Reaffirms Position: NCAA’s Transfer Rule Not Unlawful

In January, former Northern Illinois University football player Peter Deppe filed suit against the NCAA for its rule that requires student-athletes who transfer to sit out of their sport for a year. On Monday, March 6, 2017, an Indiana federal judge heard oral arguments from Deppe and the NCAA, and found that the NCAA’s “year-in-residence” rule does not violate the Sherman Act because it furthers the NCAA’s objective to promote competition among amateur athletes. The court had made a similar ruling in 2016 against former Weber State Cornerback, Devin Pugh, who also challenged the NCAA’s “year-in-residence” rule. Unlike Pugh, the court pointed out that Deppe was no longer playing Division I football, and therefore did not have standing to seek injunctive relief. The NCAA’s transfer rule has been the subject ...
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Sport Memorabilia Collector Faces Up to 20 Years for Memorabilia Fraud, Including Fake Heisman

An Arkansas sports memorabilia collector pled guilty in Chicago’s federal court to defrauding investors by selling fake and doctored items, even using a fake Heisman Trophy as collateral for a $100,000 loan. As background, John Rogers sold fake sports memorabilia to his customers and secured loans by offering fake and inauthentic items as collateral. Rogers’ plea deal stated that he either “created the items himself or altered them to make them appear authentic.” Rogers admitted to defrauding the investors in his companies and the financial institutions that loaned him money to keep his businesses alive. Further, Rogers acknowledged that his defrauding scheme was “for personal gain,” and even stated that “I knew it was wrong, I did it anyway. . . I’m guilty of it.” Between 2009 and 2014 Rogers’ ...
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Another State Launches Attack on the Federal PASPA: West Virginia Introduces Bill Calling for the Legalization of Sports Betting

West Virginia has joined several other states in their quest to legalize sports betting by introducing a bill that calls the federal prohibition on states from allowing the practice unconstitutional. On Wednesday, March 1, 2017, West Virginia State Representative Shawn Fluharty introduced House Bill 2751, which seeks to legalize and regulate sports betting in the state and alleges that the federal Professional and Armature Sports Protection Act (PASPA) is unconstitutional. The Bill declares that sports betting is lawful if it complies with the Lottery Commission’s rules and licensing fees. While Bill 2751 allows for betting on college and Olympic sports in addition to professional sports, it does not legalize sports betting on other amateur contests. Additionally, the Bill states that “West Virginia would benefit financially from sports betting, as increased ...
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Five College Baseball Players Suspended for Involvement in Fantasy Sports

Student-athletes need to think twice before accepting their fantasy football league invitations this year. Five players from the University of Richmond’s baseball team have learned this lesson the hard way. The five effected players have begun the 2017 college baseball season suspended by the NCAA for their involvement in a fantasy football league. The NCAA rules state: “You are not eligible to compete if you knowingly participate in any sports wagering activity that involves intercollegiate, amateur or professional athletics, through a bookmaker, a parlay card or any other method employed by organized gambling. Examples of sports wagering include, but are not limited to, the use of a bookmaker or parlay card; Internet sports wagering; auctions in which bids are placed on teams, individuals or contests; and pools or fantasy leagues ...
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Helmet Maker Riddell Accuses Rivals of Delaying Football Helmet Patent Infringement Litigations: Unfair Delay, or Proper Use of a Stay Pending the PTAB Outcome?

Riddell, Inc., a Chicago-based sports equipment maker, urged an Illinois federal court to keep its patent infringement suits moving forward, instead of granting its rival’s motion to stay the cases while the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) reviews the patents at issue. As background, Riddell filed two lawsuits in April, 2016 against Schutt Sports and Xenith, LLC, alleging the competing companies’ football helmets violated Riddell’s “Sports Helmet” patents, patent numbers 8,938,818 and 8,528,118, both issued between 2013 and 2015. Each patent provides detail regarding the helmet’s shape and design. Also, Riddell alleged infringement of its patent 8,813,269 covering the design of the company’s quick-release face guard. Riddell’s motion to combine the two cases was denied, but the judge allowed the two cases to proceed under the same discovery plan ...
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