Fashion Police: Supreme Court Edition

varsityBy Yonah Reback

It’s not the first time the US Supreme Court has played “fashion police,” and it probably won’t be the last. In Star Athletica, LLC  v. Varsity Brands, Inc., however, the Court’s review of whether designs on cheerleading uniforms can be copyrighted promises to clarify an ambiguity that has been called “the most vexing, unresolved question in copyright law.”

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Who Scores With the Ads on NBA Jerseys?

BBALL foto

By Alex Bullock

The National Basketball Association’s (NBA) owners recently approved a proposal to allow the sale of jersey sponsorships as a part of a three-year trial program set to begin in the 2017-2018 season, the same year that the league’s official uniform provider switches over from Adidas to Nike. Jersey sponsorship will take the form of a patch on the front left of the jersey, measuring 2.5 inches by 2.5 inches. The Nike logo will occupy the same position on the other side of the jersey.

This decision by the NBA’s owners marks the first foray into in-game, on-jersey advertisements by one of the “big four” sports in the United States (NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL). Adam Silver, the Commissioner of the NBA, said the NBA teams could earn additional revenue of $100 million annually through the program, and that “[j]ersey sponsorships provide deeper engagement with partners looking to build a unique association with our teams and the additional investment will help grow the game in exciting new ways.”

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Standing Room Only: The Limited Consumer Market for Ticket Sales

sold outBy Alex Bullock

Many sports and music fans find it difficult or expensive to get tickets to see their favorite team or band play live. Consumers face the challenge of finding an available ticket, and the tickets they do find are often more than what they are willing to pay. It almost feels like the system is built to favor ticket sellers and resellers. Enter New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman.

Schneiderman recently released a 43-page report entitled Obstructed View: What’s blocking New Yorkers from Getting Tickets that criticizes the ticket sales practices of sports and entertainment companies as unfair and deceptive. The report primarily focuses on consumer access to tickets. Continue reading

Kobe Bryant Trademarks Phrase to Prepare for the Next Chapter

kobeBy Yayi Ding

It’s official – Kobe Bryant has trademarked the phrase: “Friends Hang Sometimes Banners Hang Forever.”

The motto originated from a 2015 interview with Kobe, when a reporter asked him about “not being a great friend all the time.” His response captured the relentless drive that has defined him as a basketball player: “Friends can come and go, but banners hang forever.” As Kobe’s NBA career comes to a close, his legal efforts offer more insight into his business acumen and his post-retirement preparations. Continue reading

The Continuing Fight Over Paying Student-Athletes

Untitled2By Joe Davison

College athletics, like professional sports, have become a multi-billion dollar business. As the NCAA and its conferences sign lucrative media contracts, many have started to question the lack of compensation for college student-athletes. This has resulted in an outbreak of antitrust action against the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). In O’Bannon v. National Collegiate Athletic Association, plaintiffs challenged the restrictions on student-athletes receiving compensation for the use of their names, images, and likenesses. Plaintiffs are a group of twenty current and former college student-athletes who played either Division I men’s basketball or football between 1956 and the present. They represent a certified class of all current and former student-athletes who “compete on, or competed on, an NCAA Division I . . . men’s basketball [or] . . . football team and whose images, likenesses and/or names may be, or have been, included . . . in game footage or in videogames licensed or sold by Defendants, their co-conspirators, or their licensees.” Named Plaintiff, Edward O’Bannon, was a student-athlete who played on the 1995 University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), national championship team. Continue reading