Start ‘Em Up: NFLPA Launches Business Accelerator

On December 6, 2016, the National Football League Players Association launched the OneTeam Collective, a business incubator that will help drive innovative sports-related companies’ growth. This effort was initiated alongside six other founding partners: Harvard Innovation Lab, Intel, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, LeadDog Marketing Group, Madrona Venture Group, and the Sports Innovation Lab. OneTeam will acquire equity stakes in new sports-related startups in exchange for the licensing and content rights of NFL players. Generally, companies like Nike or EA Sports must shell out a hefty fee in order to use a player’s name, essentially prohibiting smaller startups with limited funds from acquiring these rights. With OneTeam, these smaller companies will now have access to these NFL players that they likely never dreamed of receiving. According to Ahmad Nassar, the ...
Continue Reading...


Student Athletes: Don’t Quit Your Day Job

On December 5, 2016, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision in a case brought by former student athletes of the track and field team at the University of Pennsylvania, against the University, the NCAA and several other Division I universities. The former student athletes claimed that during their time in college athletics they were employees of the defendants and therefore entitled to a minimum wage under the Fair Labor Standards Act. The district court held that the student athletes, who formerly attended the University of Pennsylvania, were too far removed from the other defendants to bring a claim against them. Further, with respect to the University of Pennsylvania, the district court held the student athletes did not and could not allege that their activities as student athletes ...
Continue Reading...

Down to the Wire: MLB Reaches Tentative Labor Agreement

In the final hours before the prior collective bargaining agreement’s expiration, Major League Baseball and its players’ union reached a tentative labor agreement. The agreement just narrowly avoided a potential work stoppage and marks 26 years of labor cooperation in the league. The new agreement should extend that peace another give years, until 2021. The agreement hinged upon a raised threshold of the specified payroll limit. This “luxury tax” was a penalty on teams that went over the threshold. According to players the cap was not rising at the same level as league revenue. This increase is accompanied by many other changes, including an agreement that the winner of the All-Star Game will not determine home field advantage in the World Series. The agreement is not yet finalized as it is ...
Continue Reading...

NFL Takes its Turn, Asks High Court to Not Review Concussion Settlement

A few weeks ago, it was the players. Now, the National Football League is asking the Supreme Court to not reject a deal between the league and roughly 20,000 former players dealing with systemic injuries of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). The Third Circuit Court of Appeals expressly approved a settlement that was expected to provide the two certified classes with more than $900 million of relief. The approval of the settlement, authorized earlier this year, was met with resistance. A group of players petitioned the high court to reject the settlement because it left players who have not yet suffered the symptoms of CTE “out in the cold.” In response, the NFL called the player’s allegations an attempt to “blow up the settlement in hopes of obtaining a more favorable ...
Continue Reading...

NFL Hit with New CTE Lawsuit in Southern District of Florida

The latest in a string of head injury lawsuits to hit the National Football League was recently filed on November 21, 2016 in federal court in the Southern District of Florida. As awareness of the long-term head injuries arises, so does litigation against professional sports teams in recent years with especially high-profile cases brought against the NFL. In this most recent iteration, 38 named former NFL players have sued on behalf of a group of 141 retired players seeking workers’ compensation benefits for chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) which they allege was an occupational disease arising out of repeated head injuries while playing football. The lawsuit names the NFL and all 32 individual teams individually and seeks damages for loss of consortium and declaratory relief, including that the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement ...
Continue Reading...

Trademark Liability Setback for The Walking Dead Creator

Robert Kirkman, creator of The Walking Dead, faced a setback Wednesday, November, 30, 2016 when a judge denied his company’s motion for summary judgement in a trademark liability suit.  Last year, the company filed suit against four entrepreneurs who had filed numerous trademark applications to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to register the mark “The Walking Dead.” The defendants’ 11 patent applications were connected to various goods and services including t-shirts, bottled water, coffee, and other “themed restaurant services.” Currently, the company owns four federal trademark registrations and has one pending use-based application. Upon learning of the defendants’ applications, counsel for the company sent a letter for the defendants demanding that they stop attempting to register the mark. Due to these filings, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office blocked the ...
Continue Reading...

No New Stadium in San Diego … For Now

One of the less polarizing takeaways from this election cycle was the rejection of a publicly-funded stadium initiative by the residents of San Diego. On Election Day, voters defeated the proposed six percent hotel room tax increase that would have aided in the funding of the venue. For now, the Chargers are focusing on football, and any decision about relocating elsewhere will be made after the NFL season concludes. The club wanted to build a new stadium in the city of San Diego — a change from its current home of Qualcomm Stadium in nearby Serra Mesa — with a new 65,000 seat stadium and convention center. Talk of the move filled airwaves running up to Election Day, and was given more weight by a proposed Los Angeles joint-stadium between the ...
Continue Reading...

The Road for MLS Expansion in St. Louis Takes a Wild Turn

On November 17, 2016, an ownership group known as SC STL revealed an official plan to build a 20,000 seat stadium to lure an expansion MLS franchise to St. Louis. The proposed $200 million stadium would be built west of Union Station and have the capability to expand to 28,000 seats if demand dictated. Per SC STL’s plan, private investors would pay at least 60 percent of the stadium costs. The remaining 40 percent, or around $80 million, would be funded with public money subject to a public vote. The city would own the facility. The concept of using public funds for sports arenas has been an area of hot debate around the country — especially in St. Louis in the aftermath of the departure of the Rams from the ...
Continue Reading...

Arena Football League Insurer Gets the First Down in Concussion Lawsuit

Although it may seem like the NFL is always involved in concussion litigation, another football organization — Arena Football League — is facing accusations over its own concussion procedures. In June 2015, Lorenzo Breland, who played for the Tulsa Talons and the New Orleans Voodoo during his time with the league, sued the AFL after suffering from two concussions. Breland suffered his first blow to the head in 2011. Then in 2014, he suffered a second concussion that ended his football career. Breland sued Arena for breaching its collective bargaining agreement by refusing to pay the medical expenses associated with his concussions. He also asserts claims for negligence and compensation for the long-term effects he suffers as a result of the concussions. Breland later added Arena’s insurers — Federal Insurance ...
Continue Reading...

Plaintiffs Strike Out in Suit Seeking to Extend MLB Stadium Safety Netting

Plaintiffs’ hopes of extending the foul ball safety net further down the first- and third-base lines at all 30 Major League Baseball stadiums were dashed recently when a California U.S. District Court dismissed the lawsuit for lack of standing. The plaintiffs’, Oakland Athletics fan Gail Payne and Los Angeles Dodgers fan Stephanie Smith, claim that the extension of the safety net was required to protect fans from injuries caused by foul balls and broken bats, but U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers found the plaintiffs failed to show a sufficient likelihood that they would be injured at future games and therefore did not have adequate standing for the proposed class-action lawsuit. While Judge Rogers agreed with the plaintiffs’ assertion that hard-throwing pitchers, wooden bats that splinter easily, and distractions like ...
Continue Reading...