Category Archives: NFL

Native American Groups File Brief in Support of Trademark Office’s Ban on Disparaging Trademarks

On November 16, 2016, Native American organizations, including the National Congress of American Indians, filed a brief of amici curiae in support of the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s (PTO) ban on offensive and disparaging trademarks. The statute at issue before the Supreme Court is Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. 1052(a), which provides that no trademark will be refused registration because of content unless, inter alia, the trademark “[c]onsists of . . .matter[s] which may disparage . . .…

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Lead Block: NFL Teams Rally to Pre-empt Jerry Jones and Jim Irsay Deposition Testimony

All 23 National Football League (NFL) teams are rallying behind two of their most notorious owners: Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys, and Jim Irsay, owner of the Indianapolis Colts. In a letter written to U.S. District Judge William Alsup, the teams asked that Jones and Irsay be excused from giving deposition testimony in a case involving alleged wide-scale painkiller abuse. Specifically, the teams want a protective order imposed that would “at least [defer]” the two owners from giving deposition testimony. The teams are…

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Concerns Over Efficacy of Historic CTE Settlement Reach the Supreme Court

Major fault-lines are coming to the fore in one of the most high-profile class action lawsuits dealing with the NFL and players affected by a condition known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Earlier this month, a group of plaintiffs requested the Supreme Court of the United States refuse to review a pair of appeals, submitted by other plaintiffs, challenging the efficacy of an April 2015 settlement. Specifically, the appeals focus on the argument that the current settlement will not be “enough” for former players with…

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Boston University Brain Bank Confirms Kevin Turner Died of ALS

On November 3, 2016, a Boston University researcher confirmed that former NFL player Kevin Turner died of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS. The statement was made in an effort to clarify conflicting media reports, as diagnoses of both ALS and chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, can simultaneously be correct. First, neuropathologist Ann McKee concluded that she stands by her initial discovery that CTE caused Turner’s fatal neurological disorder, describing her findings as “the best circumstantial evidence we will ever get that this ALS-type of motor…

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DeMeco Ryans Bring Lawsuit Against NFL and Houston Texans for Achilles Injury

DeMeco Ryans, a standout linebacker for the University of Alabama and former Houston Texan and Philadelphia Eagle, recently brought suit against the National Football League, his former team, and multiple entities stemming from a 2014 Achilles tendon injury. Ryans, the defensive MVP of the 2006 Cotton Bowl and defensive Rookie of the Year after being selected first in the second round of the 2006 draft, played for the Texans from 2006-2011 and from 2012-2015 with the Eagles. While playing for the Eagles in Houston against…

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Another Headache for the NFL and Riddell

On Tuesday, October 4, 2016, helmet maker Riddell Inc. and the NFL were sued by more than 50 former football players and families of deceased players in a new lawsuit in Louisiana Federal Court. The proposed class action alleges that the NFL made “material representations” that several brain conditions such as early-onset dementia, memory loss, and ALS, were not caused by the players’ time in the NFL and the NFL failed to protect its players. The suit further alleges that the NFL was aware of…

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Going Stag: Third Circuit Will Not Require New York Giants to Pay Memorabilia Dealer’s Attorneys’ Fees

On October 6, 2016, the Third Circuit affirmed that the New York Giants do not have to pay for federal court attorneys’ fees incurred by a memorabilia dealer.  The dealer, Eric Inselberg, had argued that the Giants should pay the fees incurred while he attempted to remand his lawsuit back to New Jersey state court because the team’s approach to his claims was “objectively unreasonable.” Originally, the Giants had removed the civil case to federal court, but in November 2014, U.S. District Judge William Martini…

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Stay Where You Are: Supreme Court Denies Premature Appeal in Redskins Case

On October 3, 2016, the Supreme Court rejected a long-shot appeal from the Washington Redskins, refusing to hear their case prior to the Fourth Circuit’s ruling. The team had attempted the rare “certiorari before judgment” because it wanted its case heard alongside The Slants’ similar case, which was accepted by the court on September 29. Like the Redskins’ case, the band argued that the board’s refusal to trademark the band name “The Slants” violated its right to free speech. Though the Patent and Trademark…

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NFL and Hall of Fame Improperly Try to Settle Lawsuit

The NFL and Pro Football Hall of Fame are not getting off easy in the class action lawsuit brought against them for abruptly cancelling the Hall of Fame Game in early August. Ticket holders initially brought suit in Ohio when the NFL and Hall of Fame knew the preseason Hall of Fame Game between the Green Bay Packers and Indianapolis Colts would not be played, but yet “allowed and encouraged fans to continue to purchase food, beverages, and souvenirs at the stadium as they waited…

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One of These Things is Not Like The Other: Electronic Arts and Retired NFL Players Argue Over Class Certification in Likeness Suit

On September 22, 2016, Electronic Arts and retired NFL players who claim that “Madden NFL” uses their likeness without permission argued over class certification in a California federal court. At the hearing, the parties debated whether publicity is a property right and the feasibility of ascertaining thousands of players’ avatars. The players’ attorney, Brian Douglas Henri, stated that suit was properly brought under California state law, reasoning that EA’s headquarters are in the Bay Area. Judge Richard Seeborg questioned why state law should apply when…

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