United States: May/June Sports Industry News

Last Updated: June 12 2018
Article by Christopher R. Chase

What's Happening

Here's what's happening at the intersection of sports, marketing, and entertainment law as we head into Summer.

An Ambush in Russia

The world's most watched sporting event is only days away and marketers are readying activation for this year's FIFA World Cup in Russia - both official sponsors and non-sponsors. For non-sponsors seeking to associate themselves with the event, it's critical to understand the rules of the road as so-called "ambush marketing" laws vary. Like host nations of the past, Russia has also passed a law to address such activities: Federal Law of June 7, 2013 No. 108-FZ, which confirms that the existing offense of "unlawful trade" will be committed where any products or services are associated, directly or indirectly with FIFA or the World Cup without permission of FIFA. The law lists numerous triggers, including the use of a wide range of protected trademarks, conducting marketing that falsely suggests approval or certification by FIFA, and the use of tickets for marketing purposes. Violations could result in fines or even criminal liability. While this law does not extend to marketing campaigns in the United States, FIFA is able to use various trademark, copyright, and contract laws to enforce its rights here.

Non-sponsor marketers looking to stay on the right side of the line should consider the following:

1. Avoid using FIFA's official assets, which FIFA deems to include the following: (a) official event names such as FIFA, FIFA WORLD CUP, 2018 WORLD CUP; (b) frequently used nicknames, such as COPA 2018, MUNDIAL 2018, and MONDIAL 2018; (c) the official event emblems, trophies, mascot, and match ball; (d) the country or host city name and year, such as RUSSIA 2018 and MOSCOW 2018; and (e) the official typeface, posters, and designs for the Event.

2. Go generic. FIFA has specifically stated that "any generic football or country related images used without any of FIFA's Intellectual Property allow the public to support their teams without creating any unauthorized association" with the World Cup or FIFA.

3. Refrain from using too many World Cup-related but generic references. For example, prior to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, FIFA issued a red card to travel company Decolar.com because its "Viva O Mundial" campaign allegedly misappropriated FIFA's rights when it featured the World Cup synonym "mundial," soccer ball artwork and the sale of travel packages to Brazilian cities that are hosting World Cup matches. The company, which never once mentioned the World Cup explicitly, was ordered to cease and desist immediately.

4. Be careful using national team or individual player references as well. These rights are not controlled by FIFA, but rights holders may bring similar claims - based on trademark, copyright, or right of publicity violations.

5. Finally, remember that these prohibitions apply to both traditional and social media. Tactics such as congratulatory Tweets, the use of FIFA-controlled terms as hashtags, and the use of imagery from the World Cup games in social posts could all pose problems for brands that do not have an affiliation with FIFA, a particular national team, or particular players.

All Bets Are On

In what is likely the most important decision for the sports industry in recent years (as we previously reviewed in depth), the Supreme Court struck down federal restrictions against sports betting by invalidating the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 ("PASPA"). The Court's critical conclusion: "The legalization of sports gambling requires an im¬portant policy choice, but the choice is not ours to make. Congress can regulate sports gambling directly, but if it elects not to do so, each State is free to act on its own. Our job is to interpret the law Congress has enacted and decide whether it is consistent with the Constitution. PASPA is not. PASPA regulate[s] state governments' regulation" of their citizens, New York, 505 U. S., at 166. The Constitution gives Congress no such power." As such, the majority of the Court found that while the federal government has the authority to regulate or prohibit sports betting, it did neither through PASPA.

The ruling opens the doors for States to approve and regulate sports betting, and in fact, the State of Delaware has already done so: on June 5, it launched the country's first full-scale sports betting operation outside of Nevada, drawing $322,135 on the first day.

Plane Wrong?

Governing bodies, leagues, and teams have the right to use the names and images of athletes playing for those entities in marketing materials, typically as part of the collective team. Where an athlete has an endorsement with an advertiser that competes with the governing entity's sponsors, the athlete usually has the ability to prohibit the use of his or her name or image in the governing entity's competing marketing. These competing interests can lead to problems though.

For example, on the eve of the Egyptian national team's first entry into the World Cup since 1990, the Egyptian Football Association (the "FA") used the image of star striker Mohamed Salah on its official team plane - but in connection with sponsor WE telecom, among other sponsors. Salah, however, has an individual endorsement with Vodafone Egypt and was insulted that the FA would use his image without permission. The striker reportedly won his dispute with the FA, after "high level intervention" from the Egyptian government. This episode shows the delicate balance rights holders must strike between team rights and player rights when creating marketing materials.

Skechy Activity

In an interesting twist to the recent NCAA men's basketball scandal engulfing several schools, agents, and coaches, as well as sponsor adidas, Skechers USA sued the sportswear giant for false advertising and unfair competition under federal and California state law. The brand argued that adidas' alleged bribes to players cost Skechers USA and other footwear competitors who "play by the rules" a fair shot at having "trendsetting high school and college athletes seen in their products" and "unfairly bolster[ing] consumer perception of adidas' overall brand quality and image well beyond the basketball footwear market." While prosecutors have charged adidas executives with bribery and fraud, arguing that the federal government has been harmed as a result of federally subsidized schools admitting ineligible athletes, this suit raises the interesting question of whether a competing brand can be harmed based on the illicit activities of a rival.

Noted and Quoted.

Top Tier

Frankfurt Kurnit is honored to have been listed as a top firm for Advertising and Marketing, Media and Entertainment, and Copyright in the latest edition of The Legal 500.

The Ads Are Good Too

Yes, there will be numerous exciting games to be played over the next month...but don't just watch the World Cup action...also pay attention to those World Cup ads! Frankfurt Kurnit is proud to have assisted several clients with the production of World Cup ads.

Want to Learn More?

Christopher Chase will discuss Keys to Negotiating Sports Marketing Agreements at the upcoming ANA Members Only Conference on June 28 with Conal Berberich of NHL Enterprises.

Christopher Chase will moderate roundtables on Legal Issues in Sports Marketing and Media for Practical Law Institute on July 18. The roundtables will feature Tori Chami of American Express, Andy Latack of CAA Sports, Olivier Manigat of Heineken USA, and Clarence Nesbitt of Think450 / NBA Players Association.


This alert provides general coverage of its subject area. We provide it with the understanding that Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz is not engaged herein in rendering legal advice, and shall not be liable for any damages resulting from any error, inaccuracy, or omission. Our attorneys practice law only in jurisdictions in which they are properly authorized to do so. We do not seek to represent clients in other jurisdictions.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Christopher R. Chase
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
In association with
Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Sign Up
Gain free access to lawyers expertise from more than 250 countries.
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Newsalert
Select Topics
Select Regions
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions