Research Paper: Sports Law: Octagon Football

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[. . .] When it comes to the identification of specific individuals, organizations, or enterprises, trade names are used. For organizations like Octagon that are routinely engaged in athlete marketing, the subject of trade names cannot be avoided. The names of players, including their nicknames (if they are deemed to be well established) can be trademarked. Indeed, within the last few years, the number of athletes seeking to secure trademark registrations from the federal government for their images and names has gone up (Goins, 2012). When developing service marks or trademarks for sporting events, Octagon Football must, therefore, at all times ensure that such marks are distinguished from those of entities it does not have special arrangements with. On the other hand, the organization must also take deliberate steps to ensure that its brand, activities, and events are unique.

Next are trade secrets. In basic terms, trade secrets include, but that are not limited to, the various techniques, strategies, processes, or even methods that are of significant economic value to an entity, and whose disclosure therefore could be injurious to the interests of the said entity. In that regard therefore, information in the public domain cannot be classified as a trade secret. From an economic perspective, a business could lose its competitive advantage if its trade secrets are disclosed. If Octagon Football, for example, takes the necessary precautions to protect such information as financial data, formal event plans, marketing strategies etc., then such information could be afforded the protection accorded to trade secrets. However, for such protection to be effective, there is need for an organization like Octagon Football to incorporate the relevant non-disclosure clauses into the specific arrangements it has with licensees or other parties. It should, however, be noted that it is possible to license methods or specific ways of doing things to others. A sports league could, for example, license trade secrets to member clubs.

Third, we have service marks and trademarks. Harris (2012) defines trademarks as any graphic symbol, logo or even word/phrase that a seller or manufacturer makes use of in an attempt to distinguish they own items from those of others. Trademarks are, based on the definition above, meant to differentiate brands. The key difference between trademarks and service marks therefore is, while trademarks largely apply to products, service marks mainly apply to services (Harris 2012). The protection service marks are accorded is similar to that extended to trademarks. Organizations like Octagon Football ought to be aware of laws relating to service marks and trademarks. This is more so the case given that for such organizations, service marks and trademarks are critical advertising and marketing tools. For instance, the relevance of trademarks and service marks cannot be overstated when it comes to not only the promotion of sporting events but also the enhancement of team loyalty.

Publicity Rights and Privacy Rights

This is yet another important factor in the sports and events management legal environment. Essentially, individuals have well-defined rights in their own identity. In the case of Octagon Football, such rights could touch on the right (exclusive or otherwise) to exercise charge over the personality or name of a player or client in dealings of a commercial nature. The relevance of publicity rights cannot, therefore, be overstated when it comes to the proprietary interest of an individual in a performance in which they are engaged. Should a sporting organization deprive an athlete or client their means of livelihood, it could find itself in court defending its actions as the publicity right is in this case actionable. Unauthorized commercial utilization of the likeness or name of an athlete could also be found to be in violation of their publicity rights. This is particularly the case in those instances where the overriding goal of such an action remains the enhancement of sales of a given product.

There are a number of laws that relate to the privacy of individuals in the U.S. One such legal concept is a common law-based tort referred to as 'invasion of privacy.' As per this common law concept, an individual can bring a lawsuit against another for the unwelcome or unlawful intrusion into the aggrieved party's privacy, which could in this case include the appropriation of the aggrieved party's name for commercial gain, disclosure of private information, etc. When it comes to privacy rights in sports marketing, it should be noted that the said right is not necessarily absolute (Williams, 2009). Athletes are mostly public figures and by dint of their appearances in public, they are deemed to have waived their right of privacy to some extent. Indeed, when an athlete is well-known, his or her actions and some private undertakings are regarded as newsworthy items. This explains the reason as to why there is an entire gossip 'industry' that seems to be built around the lives of celebrities including, but not limited to, athletes, musicians and actors. It is also important to note that the First Amendment in this case complicates matters as it protects the right of the public to know. Freedom of expression is also guaranteed in the constitution. In that regard, news reporters, event organizers, sports marketers are given great latitude as far as the publicization of the actions of those in the public limelight is concerned. This in effect means that matters of public interest (provided they are legitimate) as well as the utilization of the name of an athlete in literature cannot be considered causal actions under privacy laws. Unlike is the case in the U.S., Italian sports laws fully protect the personality rights of individuals who are well-known to the public. Thus in Italy, fame according to Karen (Williams, 2009) does not necessarily void the privacy rights of an individual.

Recommendations

Sports according to Blackshaw (2010) "is a multibillion dollar global business…" Given the profit generating ability of sporting events and related undertakings, it is likely that going forward, a number of legal concerns related to sports will take center stage. This is particularly the case when it comes to issues relating to intellectual property rights and contracts. With regard to intellectual property rights, it is important to note that as I have pointed out elsewhere in this text, such rights are of great relevance when it comes to the promotion of innovation and creativity -- critical issues in sports promotion. Although many countries have laws that offer sufficient protection to trademarks and patents, there is need to have a single treaty that would help facilitate registrations made in other jurisdictions. Currently, there is no specific law that requires countries to protect trademarks whose registration took place in another jurisdiction or country (Harris 2012). The lack of a uniform global treaty on the enforcement of intellectual and copyright laws makes it difficult to efficiently regulate intellectual property rights in sports marketing and other facets of sports. The proposed level of efficiency can only be achieved when registrations made in one nation become globally recognized. With regard to contracts, the relevance of drafting formal contracts cannot be overstated. Such contracts are especially useful when it comes to clarifying the agreements made and ensuring that such agreements have full legal backing.

In the final analysis, it is important to note that an organization that seeks to remain relevant in any given industry ought to be aware of the various legal doctrines and issues that are pertinent to its operations. In seeking to understand the various legal issues present in sports as a commercial enterprise, organizations like Octagon Football can come up with better ways of addressing challenges of a legal nature.

References

Blackshaw, I. (2010). Morality Clauses in Sports Merchandising Agreements. The International Sports Law Journal, 1-2.

Goins J.V. (2012). Jewel Food Stores, Inc.: Do the Shoes Make the Man? Sport Marketing Quarterly, 21(4).

Harris, E. (2012). Rings of Controversy: An Analysis of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games Logo Controversy. The International Sports Law Journal, 1-2.

Jones, K.L. (2011). Foundations of the United States Sports Law Model: Structure and Key Issues. The International Sports Law Journal, 3-4.

Moorman, A.M. & Hambrick, M.E. (2009). To License or Not to License: This is the Question for Professional Sports Leagues and the NCAA. Sport Marketing Quarterly, 18(3), 160.

Robinson, M. (2009). SQM Profile/Interview: Lisa Murray. Sports Marketing Quarterly, 17(4).

Williams, K. (2009). Character Sports Merchandising: International Legal Issues: The Legal and Practical Ways and Means of Protecting the Subject Matter in the UK,… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Sports Law: Octagon Football.  (2014, March 23).  Retrieved June 27, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/sports-law-octagon-football/3779845

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"Sports Law: Octagon Football."  Essaytown.com.  March 23, 2014.  Accessed June 27, 2019.
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