The sports industry today involves a wide range of legal issues across an ever-changing athletic and legal landscape, which includes rapidly evolving concepts of what constitutes professional sports, together with the emergence of cutting-edge types of sports and sports venues. Each has its own unique set of issues and challenges. For example, the growing popularity of online sporting events, and the debate over whether e-games can or should be regulated and evaluated using conventional legal concepts, each present new challenges and legal questions in the sports world.
With respect to sports law and sports representation, our attorneys work with individual athletes, coaches, and agents; professional teams and events; equipment manufacturers; sports publications; and online sports and gaming operations. The firm has represented owners, coaches, players and their families, and other professional athletes in matters involving general operational issues; performance and endorsement contracts and allied rights; negotiations with governing sports bodies such as the MLB, NBA, and NFL; general contract negotiation; litigation, mediation, arbitration, and other forms of dispute resolution; the protection and licensing of intellectual-property rights, including rights of privacy and publicity; rights of authorship; use of an athlete or team name or likeness; book, video, and movie rights, including AFTRA, SAG, and SESAC requirements and issues; endorsement contracts; amateurs in sports; Title IX issues; labor issues; antitrust issues; merchandising and licensing rights; online issues; identity theft; takedown notices; libel and slander; performance rights; insurance coverage; wealth management; tax and estate planning; charitable giving; other financial issues; disability issues; and many others.
Our attorneys provide personal business counsel and comprehensive legal advice to individuals and companies involved in the multi-billion-dollar global entertainment industry. We work to maximize opportunities and protect the artistic freedom and creative works of individual artists, performers, groups, troupes, and ensembles, as well as music publishers, entertainment companies, and performance venues. We assist artists, performers, and entertainers with general business issues, performance contracts, talent agreements, endorsement contracts, distribution rights, synchronization rights, syndication, merchandising, product branding, product placement, licensing rights, rights acquisitions, media clearances, royalty issues, allied rights, financial matters, insurance coverage, tax planning, intellectual-property rights such as copyright and trademark protection, defamation, rights of publicity, rights in creative works, rights of authorship, as well as the role, implementation, and protection of technological innovations and digital technologies in the entertainment industry.
In conflict situations, we combine vigorous advocacy with in-depth knowledge of industry precedent and procedures to assert or defend against the wide array of claims or litigation the can arise from entertainment disputes.
Our attorneys are actively involved and highly skilled in protecting and extending the reach of performing artists’ creativity and assets. We provide thoughtful and effective guidance in the areas of promotion and advertising, use of technology, licensing, publishing and distribution rights, and the valuation of creative works. We also draft, negotiate, and advise on entertainment industry agreements, including talent management agreements, development agreements, production agreements, publishing agreements, and independent contractor agreements. Where free speech and First Amendment rights or protections are implicated, we counsel clients on rights of privacy and publicity, provide assistance and guidance with prepublication review; libel and slander issues, and the rights, obligations, and privileges of private and public figures.
Our attorneys frequently protect and enforce creative works through the registration of such works with the United States Copyright Office. We often provide advice about copyright enforcement, licensing, and publishing of creative works; permissible and impermissible use of names and likenesses; claims of copyright or trademark infringement; independent works; and works made for hire. We are pleased and proud to provide expansive entertainment counseling to a wide range of individuals and organizations ranging from independent artists, authors, illustrators, and performers, to early-stage, high-growth companies, to members of the Fortune 500.
Our attorneys have represented print, television, radio, cable, broadband, and wireless-broadcasting companies for many years, and we continue to do so today. We also represent and counsel multimedia companies and clients involved in new media areas such as interactive television and internet broadcasting. Our experience further includes addressing specific programs and assisting investors and funds with interest in these areas and entities. More recently, our attorneys have been actively involved with video-game law and regulations, working with investors, developers, and publishers in all aspects of the gaming industry. Our expertise in this area includes formation, financing, and IP protection; the negotiation of international publishing, development, and licensing agreements; the development of video-game programing; and legal issues relating to video-game operations and presentations.
We have extensive experience in aiding individuals and investors in the formation of innovative broadcast media entities. We pioneered the legal regulation of the earliest radio and television stations in the American Southwest, handling the financing, negotiation, and documentation of acquisitions that became 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.
We have guided conventional media, new media, and multimedia organizations through a labyrinth of IP issues, protections, and dispute resolutions, which collectively are among the most crucial challenges faced by media companies of all shapes and sizes. Our attorneys have advised media companies on publication and broadcast rules and regulations; advertising; sweepstakes and gaming; signage; marketing policies and practices; technology transfers; licensing; and asset evaluation. We also advise media companies on First Amendment protections; compliance with Open Meeting and Open Records Acts; reporters’ privileges and access matters; as well as rights and protections for private and public figures. We have also counseled media personalities and on-air television talent during their contract negotiations, assisted with free-speech and fair-use considerations, and provided legal guidance on a wide range of media-law issues.
As an added benefit, if needed, we are able to include our well-recognized and highly respected trial attorneys in protecting our client’s media interests in adversarial negotiations, mediations, arbitrations, and other forms of dispute resolution, as well as in litigation involving media issues such as First Amendment rights, libel and slander, copyright infringement, disparaging advertising, antitrust, unfair competition, and a variety of other media-related claims.
Our attorneys understand the broadcast-media industry’s competitive structure and complex technology. We both know and work with the legislation and regulations that guide and govern the operations of that industry. In today’s global economy, we recognize that this industry’s reach extends far beyond the borders of the continental United States, and we work to remain familiar with other countries’ laws, rules, and regulations that could impact the media businesses of our clients.
- Counseled a National Football League agent company in partnership agreements, player contracts, and dispute issues
- Represented a client in obtaining trademark licenses and affiliation agreements from the NFL and several of its teams
- Counseled the leading publisher of sports collectibles magazines and a major website for sports collectible enthusiasts regarding intellectual property and general corporate issues
- Represented a company that owns a hockey team and is building a sports stadium
- Defended prominent NBA coaches in a dispute with the NBA involving player recruiting
- Defended a prominent NFL team against claims of copyright infringement for the use of photographs in game-day and season programs
- Defended a regional athletic footwear and clothing franchisor against claims of trademark and trade-dress infringement brought by a national athletic shoe retail chain
- Assisted in the administration of a collegiate athletic department, including coaches’ contracts that incorporate non-compete and buyout provisions
- Represented a client in establishing a charitable organization that operates the client’s golf championship tournament
- Negotiated corporate sponsorship agreements for a group that runs a major golf tournament
- Represented the investment group that owned the Texas Rangers Major League Baseball Club in their sale of the franchise and related assets—a transaction valued at over $250 million
- Represented a national manufacturer and distributor of soccer shoes and apparel, assisting the client in raising almost $12 million in capital over a three-year period and advising it on the sale of its business
- Managed the financing and acquisitions of the Lyndon Baines Johnson family-owned radio and television stations in Texas, California, and Arkansas
- Assisted a client in the acquisition, operation, and disposal of 39 radio and television stations in 31 separate transactions, arranging and documenting the financing of all acquisitions
- Negotiated and documented the financing of five Texas television stations (including two Fox affiliates), while conducting day-to-day legal affairs of two NBC affiliates (one in Texas and one in Arkansas) and two other Texas stations
- Represented the new media division of a major U.S. communications conglomerate by analyzing competitors, conducting due diligence on investments and acquisitions, and helping develop the patent and technology strategy for the client’s interactive television and web-based broadcast venture
- Helped a client launch a cable joint venture in Mexico
- Counseled the lead investor of a group that made a multimillion-dollar private-equity investment in a Hispanic television broadcasting company
- Facilitated the purchase, option, and sale of a television station affiliated with Telemundo, Fox, NBC, and three independent television stations
- Counseled print- and internet-media publications on trademark and copyright protections, parody, fair use, and other speech and publishing issues