Fight over the Mark “Golden Knights”

On January 10, 2018, the Department of the Army filed two notices of opposition with the United States Patent and Trademark Office to oppose the marks “Vegas Golden Knights,” and “Las Vegas Golden Knights.” The marks were filed by Black Knights Sports Entertainment, LLC. Black Knights Sports Entertainment and its majority owner, Bill Foley, are the owners of the recent National Hockey League expansion team, the Las Vegas Golden Knights. In August 2017, Black Knights Sports Entertainment, LLC completed the registration application and from the outset, it appeared the Department of the Army would oppose the registration. Since 1969, the Department of the Army has used the mark “Golden Knights” in connection with a U.S. Army Parachute Team, known as the Golden Knights. According to the notice of opposition, the ...
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Deion Sanders Still Refuses to Cooperate in School Lunch Lawsuit

Deion Sanders once again faces sanctions due to his failure to participate in court proceedings surrounding the suit about his alleged misuse of subsidized lunch funds. As we have previously reported, whistleblower Lawrence Smith claimed that Prime Time Prep Academy, a charter school co-founded by Sanders and D.L. Wallace, applied for, and received, nearly $1 million under the National School Lunch Program and Summer Food Service Program, with no evidence that the money was used for school lunches or for the benefit of needy children. On January 9, 2018, Smith asked Judge Irma Carrillo Ramirez to hold Sanders in contempt of court. Sanders lack of cooperation regarding this legal matter, according to Smith’s motion, is apparent. Smith originally alleged that Sanders failed to appear at a scheduled May 2, 2017 ...
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Deer Antler Spray Litigation Saga Continues

The latest development in the ongoing litigation dispute between the PGA Tour and Vijay Singh over the use of deer antler spray features another appeal. This time the appeal was brought by the PGA Tour, in New York State Supreme Court. On December 29, 2017, PGA Tour requested the court review Judge Eileen Bransten’s September 2017 ruling on a motion to in a lawsuit brought by former professional golfer Vijay Singh. In May 2017, Judge Bransten granted part of the PGA Tour’s summary judgment motion, but refused to grant summary judgment on two of Vijay Singh’s “good faith and fair dealing” claims. The first claim alleged that the PGA Tour breached its obligations to Vijay Singh by failing to consult with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) prior to suspending Vijay ...
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NCAA Wins Motions in Antitrust Litigation

On January 3, 2018, Judge Nathanael M. Cousins denied the class of former NCAA student-athlete’s motion to reopen discovery in the NCAA antitrust litigation. The litigation began in March 2014, when former student-athletes claimed that the NCAA violated antitrust laws by capping scholarship awards below the actual cost of college attendance. The former student-athletes wanted to reopen discovery to gain access to a public opinion survey conducted by the NCAA, which according to the players said that 79 percent of Americans believe that big universities put money ahead of student-athletes. However, Judge Cousins denied the motion because the discovery period in the case had already lasted more than two years and the survey in question was conducted eight months after the discovery period had closed. Under California law, a plaintiff ...
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NFL Continues to Argue Hernandez Suit is a Matter of Federal Labor Law

On December 18, 2017, the National Football League responded in opposition to Avielle Hernandez’s motion to remand her lawsuit against the NFL back to state court. Also named in the suit are helmet maker Riddell and other related companies. Avielle’s lawsuit seeks compensation for the NFL’s role in her father’s, Aaron Hernandez’s, post-mortem diagnosis of stage 3 chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Those diagnosed with CTE exhibit symptoms that include impulse control issues, aggression, depression, dementia, and suicidality. Hernandez committed suicide while serving a life sentence for murder. Avielle originally filed the lawsuit in Massachusetts state court, but the NFL quickly removed the case to federal court. Avielle moved for the case to be returned to Massachusetts state court, arguing that Hernandez’s time as a professional football player was incidental to ...
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Rick Pitino Shoots Back at Adidas’ Motion to Dismiss Emotional Distress Suit

Dribbling around the allegations connecting him to a bribery scandal, former University of Louisville men’s basketball coach, Rick Pitino, fought back against Adidas’ arguments to toss his claim alleging emotional distress. Adidas filed a motion at the end of November to either dismiss the case for failure to state a claim or stay it in favor of mandatory arbitration because of a provision in a contract between Pitino and Adidas. Pitino, in response, argued the product endorsement contract with Adidas does not apply to his unrelated tort of outrage claim. Pitino was linked to a scheme in which Adidas and others would pay student athletes to commit to certain Adidas-sponsored schools and hire certain agents when they went pro. Following the September charges, the University of Louisville suspended and then ...
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MLB, Chicago Cubs Ask Judge to Toss Fan’s Foul Ball Blindness Suit

The Chicago Cubs and Major League Baseball moved to dismiss a negligence suit on December 15, 2017 before a Cook County Circuit Court, arguing that the Illinois Baseball Facility Liability Act bars the plaintiff’s claims. John “Jay” Loos sued the Cubs and MLB in October, claiming they were negligent for failing to install enough netting behind home plate. Loos claimed the foul ball hit by a Pittsburgh Pirates player on August 29 at Chicago’s Wrigley Field not only left him blind in one eye, but after many reconstructive surgeries to repair the broken facial bones, the vision in his other eye is also at risk. He was sitting along the first base line with his two sons and daughter. He also alleged that the MLB voluntarily undertook a duty to ...
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NCAA Sanctions University of Northern Colorado

On December 15, 2017, the NCAA hit the University of Northern Colorado’s men’s basketball team with sanctions for the former head coach and other staff members completing coursework and paying tuition for poorly performing prospects. Additionally, one player was given extra, off-site practice. Specifically, the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions found that the former head coach, B. J. Hill, was fueled by his want to “succeed at any cost.” To accomplish this goal, as well as follow his high-performing predecessor’s footsteps, Hill recruited many assistant coaches and a graduate assistant to break the NCAA’s rules to guarantee eligibility of the players. The NCAA panel found that Hill took shortcuts and put his own self-interest and ambitions above student-athlete welfare. Hill brought in talent that was academically ineligible, and then ...
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More Ripken Baseball Camps Added to Complaint in Patent Infringement Fight

A Maryland federal court on Wednesday, December 13, 2017, granted Zito LLC, a company suing Cal Ripken Jr.’s baseball camps, a chance to amend its complaint against the retired player’s camps over patent infringement, finding that adding four more Ripken-owned camps would not prejudice the company. The Ripken camps had argued that the amendment would be made in bad faith because they allege the additional parties are unrelated and the additions were made as a work-around for an inability to change the theory of infringement. They argued that Zito’s decision to include the new camps was “predicated on an internet search using the word ‘Ripken,'” and were not found during discovery as Zito claimed. The four additional defendants are Ripken Holdings LLC, Ripken Baseball Academy LLC, Ripken Enterprises LLC and ...
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Louisville Athletics Association Contends Pitino Must Pay Forfeited Funds

On December 13, 2017, the University of Louisville Athletics Association stated that Rick Pitino, the former men’s basketball head coach, should cover the penalties issued by the NCAA against the school. The University of Louisville Athletics Association filed counterclaims against Pitino in his federal suit over his termination. The university received penalties from the NCAA panel because of allegations that a former operations director used strippers and escorts to attract potential players. However, once the FBI investigation was complete, there were only charges against an Adidas marketing executive, several coaches at different universities, and other individuals. Pitino was originally suspended in September, and then fired after the university admitted its involvement with the FBI. Pitino also lost his Adidas endorsement agreement. Pitino brought his breach of contract suit against the ...
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