NFL Sued by Former Athletes over Pro Bowl Promotionals

World Sports Alumni Inc. (WSA), a sports marketing firm, is suing the NFL and a chapter of the National Football League Alumni Association (NFLAA) over the use of former athletes’ names and pictures in promotional advertisements without their permission. WSA alleges that the NFL and NFLAA depicted retired NBA player Nick Anderson, retired NFL player Brandon Meriweather, and retired heavyweight boxing champion Riddick Bowe to promote the Pro Bowl events without the former athletes’ knowledge or consent. The complaint states that, in December 2017, NFLAA…
Continue reading...

Cubs Fan Files Copyright Suit against the Team over Souvenir Design

On Friday, August 17th, a retired Michigan advertiser filed suit against the Chicago Cubs, alleging that the Cubs stole his design for 1984 souvenirs and reused the design for 2017 souvenirs without his permission or compensation. Dan Fox was a Chicago advertising executive in 1984, when he contracted with the Cubs to create a souvenir for the team’s divisional championship: a clear acrylic block encasing an ivy leaf from Wrigley Field’s outfield wall. In the original license agreement, the Cubs’ acknowledged Fox as…
Continue reading...

University of Arkansas Files Suit Against Counterfeit Retailers

On Tuesday, June 26, 2018, the University of Arkansas’ Board of Trustees filed a suit seeking to stop a “massive network” of counterfeit websites selling fake or unregistered Razorback merchandise. The suit was filed in U.S. District Court, in the Northern District of Illinois. Defendants are not named, but are described as retailers “residing in China” or “other foreign jurisdictions”, operating “without any authorizations or licenses”. These phony retailers are extremely successful, as the complaint alleges that they receive tens of millions of visits per…
Continue reading...

Judge Alludes to Dismissal of Caddy Ad Lawsuit

At a hearing on Thursday, December 3, 2015, U.S. District Judge Vince Chabbria indicated that he is likely to dismiss an antitrust lawsuit brought by professional caddies against PGA Tour, Inc. In February 2015, professional caddie Mike Hicks and 81 others filed a class-action antitrust suit against the PGA Tour in a California federal court, alleging the Tour’s misappropriation of their “likeness and images in commercial activities.” The caddies seek for a share of revenue flowing in from caddies wearing bibs that display sponsors’ logos,…
Continue reading...

The Power of Endorsement Deals: Is Equity the New Compensation?

Professional athletes are becoming brands; walking, talking brands. Their success on the playing field adds value to their brand. Ultimately, companies want to use the athlete’s brand to sell their product; this gives birth to an endorsement contract. Companies pay huge sums of money for athletes to promote their products. The more powerful an athlete’s brand is, the more money a company is willing to pay to get their products in that athlete’s hands. Athletes earning potential in the endorsement arena is limitless; simply the…
Continue reading...

MJ and Chicago Grocer in Settlement Talks

On Wednesday, September 30, 2015, an Illinois federal judge told Michael Jordan and Jewel Food Stores, Inc. that both sides will benefit from settling their right of publicity suit. The lawsuit arose out of an advertisement placed in Sports Illustrated. The advertisement featured text congratulating Jordan on his introduction into the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame, a pair of basketball shoes portraying Jordan’s Number 23, and Jewel’s own logo. Jordan brought suit against Jewel alleging that Jewel used his likeness without permission in the…
Continue reading...

Judge Blocks Jordan’s 3-Point Attempt in Right of Publicity Lawsuit

Jordan’s bid to win the right of publicity lawsuit without going to trial failed as a federal district court refused to rule that Jewel’s use of his likeness violated relevant state law as matter of law. On March 12, District Judge Gary Feinerman denied Jordan’s motion for summary judgment, finding that there remained an unanswered legal question of “the extent to which the scope of the . . .  state laws . . . is coextensive with the Supreme Court’s constitutional commercial-speech doctrine.” To establish…
Continue reading...

David Throwing Jabs at Two Goliaths to Keep the Business

Following a couple of left jabs  by some owners of Wrigley Field rooftop clubs at the city of Chicago, another group of rooftop business owners threw a right jab at the Cubs and team chairman Tom Ricketts. According to the filing, the owners alleged the team blamed the rooftop businesses for a drop in Cubs ticket sales and suggested a price-fixing scheme.  When the business owners declined the suggestion, the Cubs threatened to block their views with six advertising signs, including a video board in…
Continue reading...