Representing an athlete or other celebrity involves several unique issues and areas of the law. At Titus Brueckner and Levine PLC, we focus on these areas of the law (intellectual property and image protection, endorsement and other commercial transactions). At the core of protecting the rights of an athlete or celebrity is the protection of his or her name, image and likeness; each of which is an extremely valuable intellectual property right.
For example, several of our current and former professional athlete clients are able to commercialize their names, images and likenesses for appearance fees and for contracts involving marketing and endorsement agreements for all types of goods and services – sports equipment, clothing, food and drink products, local business endorsement, etc. We negotiate such agreements to ensure protection of our clients’ reputations and proper use of our clients’ names, images and/or likenesses in connection with the sale, endorsement or marketing of a third party’s products or services. Branding and endorsement deals must not only provide our clients with agreed-upon financial terms, but we provide counsel on how such branding and endorsement will associate our clients in the mind of the general public in an effort to create and maintain a positive image.
In addition to such negotiations, we assist our clients in controlling their valuable intellectual property and protecting their right of publicity. We file state, federal and international trademarks. Registering such marks not only protects intellectual property, but further allows our clients the right to make other commercial use of their names, images and likenesses via licensing and royalty agreements. With such protection, our team of litigators can prevent and stop others from making unauthorized use of our famous clients’ intellectual property and publicity rights.
However, such protection goes beyond trademark registration of one’s name. We also assist our athletes and other celebrities with other forms of name, image and likeness protection, such as copyrights, domain name registration, and protection for logos, phrases or other items closely associated with the client. Indeed, a famous person’s image and likeness is more than his or her name – consider nicknames, reputation, associations, initials, and distinctive and other identifiable characteristics of the person. Copyright protection helps with the protection of imagery and likeness in photographs, videos, video games and other media.
With athletes and other celebrities maintaining more of an internet presence, our role has evolved to protect our clients in cyberspace. Athletes and celebrities must also beware of “cyber squatters” – those who obtain a domain name using the name (or, at times, a close misspelling) or other characteristic of an athlete or celebrity and then holding such domain hostage hoping the individual will purchase the domain name. We continue to handle several of these disputes and vigorously protect our clients’ assets and reputation. We counsel our up-and-coming stars to consider protecting their names and images in an effort to control their reputations before a third party does so.
Our attorneys are part of the team of professionals necessary to protect the unique assets of an athlete or other celebrity. Contact Matthew B. Levine, Esq., at (480) 483-9600 or firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions regarding protecting and commercializing such intellectual property.