In November 2009, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama issued a ruling on motions for summary judgment and declaratory judgment in the long dormant case of the University of Alabama Board of Trustees v. New Life Art (2009). The highly publicized lawsuit, initially filed in 2005, pitted sports artist Daniel Moore against his alma mater, the University of Alabama (Grady, 2005). The case involves Moore’s art prints depicting Crimson Tide football players playing against rival teams. The art work features the player uniforms as well as the well-recognized school colors...Read more

Eli C. Bortman

In the spring of 2007, Jordan’s, a Boston area furniture retailer, attracted the attention of New England fans, media, and sport marketers with an innovative promotion entitled “Jordan’s Monster Deal.” In television commercials, the energetic president of Jordan’s Furniture enthusiastically announced: “EVERY Sofa, EVERY Sectional, EVERY Dining Table, EVERY Bed, EVERY Mattress … can be YOURS FREE if the Red Sox win the World Championship in 2007.” As an official sponsor of the Boston Red Sox, Jordan’s held the rights to designate itself the “Official Furniture Store” of the Boston Red Sox....Read more

Anita M. Moorman
Marion E. Hambrick

Three recent cases that are currently pending in federal courts assert a variety of legal theories and, at first glance, may seem to bear no connection. However, a common thread links all three legal challenges: the business activity of licensing. These three cases, one of which will soon be heard by the United States Supreme Court, have the potential to dramatically affect licensing practices in both professional and collegiate sport. When one thinks of the sport licensing industry, the first thought may be of T-shirts, jerseys, and coffee mugs emblazoned with familiar names, logos, and...Read more

Anastasios Kaburakis
Steve McKelvey

Pro football, the game for the ear and the eye … This sport is more than a spectacle, it is a game for all seasons … X’s and O’s on the blackboard are translated into imagination on the field.” This 13 seconds of digitally-altered audio, incorporated by National Football League Films, Inc. into “The Making of Madden NFL ’06,” lies at the heart of the lengthy legal saga between the estate of John Facenda and NFL Films (Facenda Jr. v. N.F.L. Films, Inc.., 542 F.3d 1007 (3rd Cir. 2008). The Third Circuit’s decision is instructive on three key fronts. First, it highlights the continued...Read more

The highly publicized case of Board of Supervisors of Louisiana State University, et al. v. Smack Apparel (2008) moved one step closer to resolution with the Fifth Circuit’s decision in favor of the plaintiff universities. The appellate court affirmed the district court’s holding that Smack Apparel was liable for trademark infringement. The court’s opinion provides sport marketers with an understanding of the legal issues that are frequently litigated in cases involving manufacturers of unlicensed sports merchandise. The case also highlights the need for sport marketers to work hand in...Read more

Steve McKelvey

Trademark dilution has been described by one legal commentator as “probably the single most muddled concept in all of trademark doctrine” (Beebe, 2006, p. 1144). Two recent sport-related decisions have, however, served to illuminate the application of the doctrine to sport-related trademarks through interpretation of the 2006 amendments to the Federal Trademark Dilution Act of 1995 (“FTDA”). Both decisions provide guidance to sport-related brands and sport teams, and particularly colleges and universities, that seek to bring dilution claims (typically brought in conjunction with trademark...Read more

Anita M. Moorman

Last summer, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals took the opportunity to recount a memorable baseball highlight (the 1983 Pine Tar incident) and remind us of the essential requirements of trademark law. The 1983 Pine Tar incident (Major League Baseball, 1983) that occurred during the July 24, 1983, game between the Kansas City Royals and the New York Yankees had nothing to do with the controversy before the court except that Hall of Fame baseball player, George Brett, was involved in both the Pine Tar incident and the current litigation. This connection, although remote, opened the door...Read more

Mark S. Nagel
Richard M. Southall

The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution explicitly established private property rights, “…nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.” When a government agency seizes private land for public use, it exercises its eminent domain powers by condemning land while providing its previous owners with fair market value (Garner et al., 2004). For many years following the United States’ founding, such eminent domain powers’ utilization was most commonly justified as necessary for extensive public works projects such as the construction of new roads,...Read more

Matthew T. Brown
David Matthew Zuefle
Paul J. Batista

Developing brand equity has been a focus of sport marketers over the past 15 years (Milne & McDonald, 1999). Mullin, Hardy, and Sutton (2000) stated that brand equity can be built through tangible product extensions, distinct trademarks, history, tradition, festival, and spectacle. In attempting to increase brand equity through a change in the building blocks of brand equity or antecedents of equity (Gladden, Milne & Sutton, 1998; Gladden & Milne, 1999), legal conflict may arise. For example, on August 26, 1993, Ohio University attempted to improve its brand equity when it...Read more

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