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Simon Tam of the Asian rock band, The Slants, probably was not envisioning an 8-year-long legal battle when he chose the group’s name. Slant is known as a racial slur for Asians. Tam hoped to strip the term of its derogatory purpose and “reclaim” it by choosing it as a name for his Asian-American band, with hopes of giving it a sense of empowerment.[1] Tam’s attempt to trademark the name with the federal government failed. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) denied the application under the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. §1052(a), citing the registration as disparaging.[2] The provision prohibits registration of those marks that “consist of…matter which may disparage…persons, living or dead, institutions, beliefs, or national symbols, or bring them into contempt, or disrepute.” [3] Tam contested the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board’s (TTAB) decision and the dispute eventually reached the Federal Court.

Brexit, the United Kingdom’s (UK) decision to leave the European Union (EU), has made headline news in recent months.  Brexit is already impacting trademark rights in Europe, including in the sports and entertainment industry.

New UK Filings Required.  Trademark rights are conferred on a jurisdiction-by-jurisdiction basis.  Going forward, brand owners will not be able to rely on a single EU trademark filing to cover the same geographic territory in Europe.  In light of Brexit, brand owners now need to file trademark applications in the UK as well as the EU to protect their trademarks in the same geographic territory.  For years, separate trademark filings in Norway and Switzerland (and other European countries falling outside the EU) have been required.  Brexit adds the UK to the list of countries requiring separate trademark applications in Europe.

After a 112-year hiatus, golf is returning to the XXXI Olympiad at the Olympic golf course, Reserva de Marapendi, Barra da Tijuca, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.[1] The men’s and women’s individual events, slated to be held on August 11-14, 2016 and August 17-20, 2016, respectively, mark the first time golf has been an Olympic event since the 1904 Summer Olympics.[2] While winning a gold medal at the Olympic Games is typically viewed as reaching the apex of a given sport – see track and field, swimming, wrestling, gymnastics and figure skating as examples, the same is not true of other sports, such as baseball, with its World Series; tennis, with its Grand Slam tournaments; and soccer, with its World Cup. If some recent high-profile declinations of high-profile players, such as Adam Scott of Australia, to compete in the upcoming Olympics is any indication, golf squarely falls in the second camp: the Olympics and the national pride they inspire are of de minimis significance to the most accomplished, world-class golfers in the modern-day sporting era.[3] However, there are many highly accomplished golfers who are enthused about participating in the Summer Olympics and as golf becomes a more established sport in the Olympic schedule, the sport will likely benefit from its return to the Olympic Games.

TattooStephen G. Rickershauser, a law student at Brooklyn Law School, is GSB's spring 2016 legal extern working out of its New York office.

What rights based in copyright law does a tattoo artist have in a tattoo itself, and to what extent can an artist use those rights to restrict the rights of others, including the people whose skin has been inked?

In February, Solid Oak Sketches LLC, a company holding the copyrights to eight NBA players’ tattoos, sued the videogame makers of NBA 2K16 in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.   The Complaint alleged that the videogame makers, Take Two Interactive Software Inc., infringed on the company’s right to license its copyrights in the tattoo designs when the videogame maker depicted the tattoos in its recent game without the company’s permission.[1]

Some sports equipment inventions can have a huge impact on safety. In one example, an inventor found a way to improve safety for a skateboard, and, with this new design, the inventor founded a growing and thriving business. Fortunately, he was wise enough to protect the design through timely filing of a patent application.

Sports Fan unhappyBenjamin Riesenberg is a former Garvey Schubert Barer legal extern who worked out of the firm’s New York office. He was a law student at Brooklyn Law School.

As the popularity of fantasy sports grows, so do the legal issues surrounding the industry.  The main legal challenges facing fantasy sports have been centered on the issue of whether pay-to-play fantasy sports contests constitute illegal gambling.  In 2006, Congress passed The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (“UIGEA”), which created certain guidelines for fantasy sports.  For a pay-to-play fantasy sports contest to be legal under the UIGEA, the fantasy sports game must have a result that is predominantly based on the knowledge of participants as opposed to mere chance.

Eugene T. LeeEugene Lee's book cover, Of Counsel to the Sports and Entertainment practice group of Garvey Schubert Barer and a widely recognized and respected industry expert on NFL player contracts, salary cap, the collective bargaining agreement and athlete branding, has released a book titled “My Brother’s Keeper: Above & Beyond ‘The Dotted Line’ With the NFL’s Most Ethical Agent.”

The book delves into the lives of NFL players at different stages in their careers – from college to the pros, to life after the game. From the locker rooms into the homes of potential and current clients, Eugene brings to view what it takes to keep the dreams of players alive. Eugene also gives insight into how he conducts his business with the same integrity and faith by which he lives. Even though he is touted by some as a real-life “Jerry Maguire,”  his unique, multi-faceted approach and charisma makes him an exciting and fascinating luminary to watch in this industry.

From meeting his first clients on the basketball courts at Notre Dame, Mr. Lee has represented over thirty-five NFL players over the past decade.  From his work for his NFL clients, Mr. Lee has gained a vast understanding and in-depth knowledge of the legal aspects of NFL player representation including the drafting and negotiation of player contracts, injury settlements and endorsement and sponsorship agreements.

To purchase a copy of this book, please click here: http://tinyurl.com/nfq3zlf

Concept soft blue colored cloud with locked padlockAs boyfriends, girlfriends and the curious-the-world-over google “how to get to the dark web” and “Ashley Madison” in order to find the data dump the Impact Group unleashed on the “dark web” late Monday night, we thought it was a good time to remind the teams that service entertainers and athletes what they can do when your client’s private moments find their way to the very public Internet.

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Sports gear is constantly being improved. Athletes and others, such as trainers, spend a considerable amount of time with equipment and are often the sources of new ideas and gear. But with the advent of smart phones, casual athletes can envision new services related to sports, and one of these ideas recently resulted in a granted patent.

As anticipated, the TTrademarkrademark Trial and Appeal Board ("TTAB") decision of June 2014 cancelling six trademark registrations for the Washington Redskins team was appealed by Pro Football, Inc. In August 2014, Pro Football, Inc. filed a lawsuit in federal court against the five Native Americans involved in pursuing the TTAB cancellation in an effort to try to overturn the TTAB's holding that the term “Redskins” is offensive to Native Americans and thus is not eligible for trademark registration under the federal Lanham Act. Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act prohibits protection for terms that “may disparage” or bring people into contempt or disrepute. 15 USC §1052; TMEP §1203. On July 8, 2015, the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia ruled against Pro Football, Inc., affirming the TTAB's ruling that the REDSKINS marks do disparage Native Americans and that such a decision is not unconstitutional.

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The Sports, Arts and Entertainment Group at Garvey Schubert Barer provides full service legal representation on sports, entertainment and business matters, including handling transactions related to brand management, licensing, joint ventures, venture capital, private equity, technology, the Internet and new media.
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