Protecting IP Rights in the Sports and Entertainment Industries

Policing IP and Reputational Rights on Social Media, Structuring Sponsorships and Endorsements, Negotiating Licensing Deals

Recording of a 90-minute CLE webinar with Q&A

Conducted on Tuesday, June 20, 2017
Recorded event now available

This CLE webinar will provide guidance to IP counsel advising athletes, media personalities and others in the sports and entertainment industries on managing key intellectual property challenges. The panel will discuss infringement and enforcement, including monitoring and protecting against unauthorized use of their brands on social media. The panel will also discuss utilizing trademark, copyright and licensing agreements to protect IP rights and enhance the brand.


Athletes, entertainers or media personalities often use IP rights to control the use of their image. Television, film studios and other content providers copyright their scripts; sports teams license their logos; individual athletes trademark their likeness and name. However, vigilant monitoring is needed to minimize the risk of infringement and protect their reputations.

Social media users are sharing, tweeting and posting a variety of IP, including celebrity pictures, videos and more, often without owner’s permission. Counsel must monitor and protect the IP from infringement but must also achieve a balance between pursuing claims and the marketing value of social media content.

Companies spend billions of dollars to have athletes and celebrities endorse their products. When negotiating endorsement and sponsorship agreements, counsel must understand and strategically construct provisions related to the scope of the agreement, exclusivity requirements, renewal and termination rights, and morals clauses.

Listen as our authoritative panel examines IP issues in sports and entertainment and what counsel needs to do to protect clients’ rights. In the era of social media sharing, the panel will address protecting and policing IP and reputational rights; rights of publicity; sponsorships and endorsements; and licensing issues.


  1. Protecting IP rights in sports and entertainment
    1. Trademark
    2. Copyright
    3. Licensing
  2. Policing IP and reputational rights, monitoring for infringement
  3. Rights of publicity
  4. Sponsorships and endorsements


The panel will review these and other key issues:

  • What are the infringement vulnerabilities for athletes, entertainers and media personalities?
  • What are best practices to proactively protect brands from infringement by social media site users, without losing the marketing advantages?
  • What are key considerations when negotiating with entities, such as a team, league, festival or stadium?
  • What strategies should IP counsel employ to enforce IP rights in sports and entertainment?


Thomas M. Dunlap, Partner
Dunlap Bennett & Ludwig, Vienna, Va.

Mr. Dunlap’s practice focuses on patent, trademark, trade secret, commercial, business, and government contracts disputes, litigation and transactions. He has authored numerous books, including Chapter 8 of the Virginia Lawyer’s Deskbook (Intellectual Property) (VA CLE 2013 & 2015), IP Litigation for the Everyday Lawyer (2011), and Speaking Objections (2009). He also works with film industry professionals in a variety of areas including copyright, licensing, distribution, contract, compliance, fundraising and clearance. 

Michael D. (Mike) Hobbs, Jr., Partner
Troutman Sanders, Atlanta

Mr. Hobbs is actively involved in intellectual property registration, licensing and litigation throughout the U.S. and internationally. He frequently represents clients in federal court and specializes in IP and technology matters. Mr. Hobbs has represented clients in actions and negotiations across the spectrum of IP, including trademarks, copyrights, advertising, trade secrets, anti-counterfeiting, covenants not to compete, covenants not to disclose, computer software, publishing, endorsements, the internet and domain names.

Michael D. Steger, Founder
Law Offices of Michael D. Steger, New York

Mr. Steger’s boutique practice focuses on IP, entertainment and media law. Since 1993, Mr. Steger has sought to help solve his clients’ problems and expand their business opportunities. Whether in business transactions, litigation and other disputes, or counseling behind the scenes, he has used his experience as an attorney at large and mid-sized firms, as well as in-house counsel, to focus on providing value to clients. A noted speaker on IP, entertainment and media law issues, Mr. Steger is Co-Chair of the ABA Copyright Litigation Subcommittee of the IP Litigation Committee.

Jaia Thomas, Founder
The Law Office of Jaia Thomas, Los Angeles

Ms. Thomas has a multi-service law practice specializing in sports and entertainment that focuses on providing quality and customized legal solutions to corporations and individuals in all facets of the sports and entertainment industry. Ms. Thomas has an understanding of the industry not only from a legal perspective but also from a practical perspective as she has worked in various capacities in the entertainment industry. Ms. Thomas is an instructor at UCLA, where she teaches a course titled Copyright Law in the Entertainment Industry


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Koppel, Patrick, Heybl & Dawson

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Morrison & Foerster

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Intellectual Property Law Advisory Board

Stephen R. Baird


Winthrop & Weinstine

Charles S. Baker


Locke Lord

David S. Bloch


Winston & Strawn

Ian N. Feinberg


Feinberg Day Alberti & Thompson

Bassam N. Ibrahim


Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney

Mark P. Wine



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