Research Handbooks in International Law series
Edited by James A.R. Nafziger and Stephen F. Ross
Chapter 16: Recent Sports-related Issues in US Intellectual Property Law
Anthony J. Dreyer Licensing and sponsorship rights unquestionably have become among the most important sources of revenue to professional and amateur sports entities, as well as to many professional athletes. Yet these revenue streams – and the intellectual property rights from which they arise – are under continuous attack from third parties who seek to appropriate for themselves the value and goodwill associated with sports entities and athletes. In the United States, recent litigation reﬂects the continuing struggle over the extent to which sports leagues, teams, and athletes are able to prevent the unauthorized use of their intellectual property rights. Whether it is a sports league’s right to exploit all broadcasts of its games or the colors and uniforms of its teams, or an athlete’s right to prevent others from using her persona for commercial gain, intellectual property rights have been and will continue to be a heavily litigated subject for professional sports leagues, teams, and athletes, as well as third parties looking to proﬁt from those commercial rights without a license or permission. This chapter focuses on ﬁve principal areas of sports and intellectual property law that recently have received signiﬁcant attention in the press and U.S. courts. First, a series of recent cases involving the unauthorized use of sports team colors and team uniforms are examined. Next, the chapter looks at the recent right of publicity litigation, and the growing tension between an athlete’s right to control the commercial use of his or her persona and the...
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