United States: January/February Sports Industry News

Last Updated: February 2 2018
Article by Christopher R. Chase

Winter Is Coming

The 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea are almost upon us. For sponsors of the International Olympic Committee ("IOC"), the US Olympic Committee ("USOC"), or National Governing Bodies within the USOC, marketing materials and activation plans have likely been set for a while. For marketers who are not sponsors of any of the foregoing entities, producing materials aimed at associating with the Winter Olympics could run afoul of several laws, rules, and restrictions prohibiting so-called "ambush" marketing. Non-sponsor marketers seeking to associate themselves with the upcoming games, particularly those considering running social campaigns, should keep the following in mind:

1. Avoid using the words "Olympic" or "Olympiad," the Olympic rings and other official IOC logos, or any variations of these marks. Because of the Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act (see 36 U.S.C. §§ 220501 et seq.), the USOC does not need to prove a likelihood of confusion (the standard for traditional trademark infringement) for use of the foregoing; rather, the USOC just needs to prove that an unauthorized user used these marks for a commercial purpose without its approval.

2. Avoid using other USOC-enforced marks, such as: TEAM USA, PYEONGCHANG 2018, ROAD TO PYEONGCHANG, GO FOR THE GOLD, or LET THE GAMES BEGIN. Although these are not specifically protected under the Olympic and Amateur Sports Act, the USOC can enforce them via traditional trademark enforcement.

3. Avoid using brand-relevant "-LYMPICS" terms, such as AQUALYMPICS, MATHLYMPICS, or BEEROLYMPICS, against which the USOC also enforces its rights.

4. Avoid producing brand-relevant simulated versions of the Olympic rings - such as using onion rings, tires, or donuts in place of the official Olympic rings. During the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, the local organizing committee sent cease and desist letters to a local butcher who placed Olympic ring shaped sausage links in his window display and to a local florist that created a window design made of flowers in the shape and color of the Olympic rings.

5. Avoid using combinations of images and text that suggest an affiliation or association with the Winter Olympics. While it is generally acceptable to use generic seasonal images or sporting event images, the more these items are used together, the more of a risk of running afoul of the relevant laws and rules.

6. Avoid specific congratulatory messages - whether to individual teams or to individual athletes. Although commonly used by brands, congratulatory messages to participating athletes would not only be a potential right of publicity problem (if there was no agreement in place with the athlete) but could also harm their eligibility, as the use of a participating athlete's name, likeness, or performance for commercial purposes without approval of the USOC or other applicable governing body violates IOC Rule 40 - to which all participating athletes must adhere. IOC Rule 40 establishes a blackout period during which participating athletes' names, likenesses, and performances cannot be used without IOC or the applicable governing body's approval - and for these upcoming Games, the period is February 1 through February 28. (There is now a waiver for Rule 40, but if you are first reading about it here...you've already missed the deadline to apply for this waiver, which we discussed back in April 2017)

7. Importantly, all of the foregoing applies to both traditional and social media. Things like congratulatory Tweets, the use of Olympic terms as hashtags, and the use of imagery from the Olympic events in social posts could all pose problems for brands that do not have an affiliation with the USOC.

Is This the Year Sports Wagering Becomes Legal Nationwide?

Perhaps the most significant sports-related lawsuit in years, Christie v. National Collegiate Athletic Association will see the Supreme Court potentially shape sports wagering in the United States. At issue is the NCAA's and the four major leagues' challenge to the State of New Jersey's passage of the Sports Wagering Act in 2012 (and a later version from 2014), whereby the State of New Jersey enacted legislation allowing sports wagering at casinos and racetracks in New Jersey - in contravention of the federal Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 ("PASPA"). PASPA prohibits traditional sports betting outside the State of Nevada. The State of New Jersey, which has lost at both the federal district and appellate court levels in this case, argues that PASPA encroaches on state sovereignty, while the sports leagues argue that the Supremacy Clause in the U.S. Constitution allows laws such as PASPA to be enforced. Essentially, this is about of federalism vs. states' rights.

The outcome of the Supreme Court's decision should determine whether sports wagering is allowed, as well as how it will be regulated and by whom - at the federal level or state by state. Indeed, a number of states have already enacted or proposed legislation allowing sports wagering if the Supreme Court's decision paves the way for state regulation.

All four major pro leagues appear to be opening up to the idea of sports wagering since the lawsuit was originally filed but they would still prefer to see sports wagering regulated by the federal government rather than the states. The NBA in particular has been outspoken, with Commissioner Adam Silver penning an op-ed in the New York Times in November 2014 asking Congress to legalize and regulate sports wagering. Indeed, demonstrating that it wants to be out in front of the issue, an attorney for the NBA recently testified before a New York State Senate committee, urging the state to pass a "comprehensive sports betting bill that would serve as a model for a 50-state solution" and requesting that all such legislation should, at minimum, do the following: monitor betting to prevent "improper conduct" and unusual betting activity; impose a 1% integrity fee on the total amount of bets, to be paid to sports leagues; contain consumer protection requirements; allow leagues to restrict certain types of wagering on their events; and authorize betting on digital platforms (such as smartphones and kiosks), not solely "land-based casinos."

From a sports marketing perspective, legalized sports betting could provide new marketing platforms - and ultimately revenue - for leagues and teams, including new sponsorship opportunities. For example, in England, where sports wagering is common, English Premier League teams with betting firms as shirt sponsors made £47.3 million in revenue for the 2017-2018 season from these sponsorships. The passage of sports wagering legislation could also lead to more gaming-style marketing activations and engagement - with in-arena and digital fan experiences focused on providing gaming-style features.

Saving Face

Duke University's freshman basketball star Marvin Bagley III needs to save face in order to save his NCAA eligibility. The face? His own - which is now appearing on products offered by a third party.

Bagley's father created t-shirts featuring an image of his son's screaming face and spiked hairstyle and gave these t-shirts out to Duke fans prior to a home game at Cameron Indoor Stadium in order to show support. Shortly thereafter, the TeeChip Pro website allowed customers to purchase various products featuring this same image - from t-shirts to mugs to cell phone cases. Unfortunately for Bagley, even if he or his father did not authorize this third party use, the NCAA can still challenge Bagley's eligibility resulting from this promotional use. However, as long as Bagley or Duke University takes steps to prevent TeeChip Pro from selling products with this image, Bagley would be able to show that he is complying with the relevant NCAA Bylaw. According to NCAA Bylaw, "f a student-athlete's name or picture appears on commercial items (e.g., T-shirts, sweatshirts, serving trays, playing cards, posters) or is used to promote a commercial product sold by an individual or agency without the student-athlete's knowledge or permission, the student-athlete (or the institution acting on behalf of the student-athlete) is required to take steps to stop such an activity in order to retain his or her eligibility for intercollegiate athletics." It looks like "steps" were taken, as the TeeChip page that formerly offered such items has been removed.

Noted and Quoted

The Business of Dance

Dance Magazine recently published Kimberly M. Maynard's article "All the Legal Terms You Need to Know Before You Sign a Dance Contract," which offers key considerations for dancers signing dance contracts.

The Resignation of Skipper

The New York Post recently quoted Gavin McElroy on the resignation of ESPN President John Skipper.

Watch the Big Game...and the Big Ads.

Sure, an exciting NFL game will be played this upcoming weekend...but don't just watch the Big Game...watch the Big Ads too! Frankfurt Kurnit is proud to have assisted several clients with the production of Super Bowl ads. AdAge has a nice roundup of the ads produced to date.


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
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
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