Sports, Entertainment, and Media Law

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Thompson & Knight has a significant practice in sports, entertainment, and media law.

The sports industry is a multibillion-dollar business whose participants need lawyers with both fundamental business experience and a detailed understanding of the issues unique to sports teams and individual athletes. Thompson & Knight attorneys have the expertise to counsel sports industry clients on the issues of critical importance to them.

In sports law, the range of our client representation includes individual athletes, coaches and agents, professional teams and championship events, equipment manufacturers, and sports administrators.  We have advised and represented these clients on general operational issues; performance and endorsement contracts and allied rights; negotiations with governing bodies such as the NBA or NFL; general negotiation, litigation, and dispute resolution; the protection and licensing of intellectual property; rights of privacy and publicity; use of name and likeness; AFTRA, SAG, and SESAC issues; performance rights issues; financial matters; insurance coverage and premises liability; and many other areas.

Combining the best of legal acumen, business experience, and prestigious industry credentials, Thompson & Knight represents athletes in:

  • Personal and professional contract negotiation
  • Endorsement contracts
  • Protection of name and image in the media
  • Merchandising and licensing rights
  • General business issues
  • Wealth management
  • Tax and estate planning
  • Disability claims and rehabilitation

Thompson & Knight also provides personal business counsel and comprehensive legal advice to clients in the multibillion-dollar global entertainment industry. Our attorneys work to maximize opportunities and protect the artistic freedom and creative work product of individual artists, performers and ensembles, music publishers, entertainment companies, and performance venues. We help with general business issues, performance and endorsement contracts and allied rights, financial matters, insurance coverage, tax planning, and protecting and licensing intellectual property. When litigation or other disputes arise, we combine vigorous advocacy with in-depth knowledge of industry precedent and procedures to defend our clients' interests.

We have particular skill at protecting and extending the reach of performing artists' creative intellectual property assets. Our attorneys offer effective guidance on promotion and advertising, technology, licensing, and valuation of creative work product. We have experience with issues arising from the transfer of traditional copyrighted works to the Internet, CDs, DVDs, and other high-technology communications media. And in issues that frequently involve First Amendment protections, we counsel clients on rights of protected speech, fair use, publicity and privacy, libel and slander, pre-publication review rights, and their legal privileges and requirements as public figures.

Our entertainment attorneys often must protect their clients' interests in adversarial negotiation, dispute resolution, and litigation. We regularly advise these clients on trademark and copyright infringement, allegations of slander and libel, and use of name and likeness. We also use our business skills to represent clients in sensitive and sometimes contentious contract negotiations.

In the related field of media law, Thompson & Knight attorneys have for decades represented print, television, radio, cable, broadband, and wireless broadcasting companies, as well as multimedia companies, new media involved in interactive television and web-based broadcasting, specific programs, and investors in these entities.  Our attorneys also have represented video game investors, developers, and publishers in all aspects of the gaming industry, from formation, financing, and IP protection, to the negotiation of international publishing, development, and licensing agreements. 

Thompson & Knight attorneys have extensive experience in helping clients and investors form innovative broadcast media entities. We were pioneers in the legal regulation of the Southwest’s earliest radio and television stations, handling the financing, negotiation, and documentation of acquisitions that helped them become media empires. In addition to our corporate work on asset purchases and sales, we help broadcast industry companies secure the equity and private debt offerings needed for growth and operation. We are also thoroughly familiar with regulatory compliance issues involving broadcast applications, licensing, station transfers, and cable franchising.

IP protection and dispute resolution are among the most crucial issues on which Thompson & Knight guides media, new media, and multimedia clients. Our IP attorneys advise media clients on publication and broadcast rules and regulations, advertising, sweepstakes and gaming, signage, marketing policies and practices, technology transfers, licensing, and asset evaluation. We advise media clients on First Amendment protections, compliance with Open Meeting and Open Records Acts, prepublication review rights, and reporters’ privileges and access matters. We also advise on-air talent in contract negotiations and other issues.

We bring Thompson & Knight’s traditional trial skills to the protection of our broadcast media clients’ interests in adversarial negotiation, dispute resolution, and litigation involving First Amendment, libel and slander, copyright infringement, disparaging advertising, and antitrust and unfair competition, among other claims.

Thompson & Knight attorneys understand the broadcast industry’s competitive structure and complex technology, and we know the legislation and regulations under which it operates.  And in today’s global economy, our clients and work extend far beyond the borders of the continental U.S.