Sports and Entertainment

The global sports and entertainment industries employ millions of workers, delight billions of spectators, and generate trillions of dollars each year. The combination of sports franchises, media ventures, and entertainment companies is a global cultural juggernaut like no other, and the industries create tremendous opportunities for individuals and for companies — just think of the disruption of streaming services, and the rise of millionaire YouTubers and Instagrammers, both phenomena of the last decade. But along with these opportunities, there are also legal risks and challenges unique to the industry.

The Sports and Entertainment Practice Group at Goldberg Segalla comprises attorneys experienced in representing national-league sports franchises, musicians’ guilds, movie studios and production and post-production companies, magazines and other publications, television and radio stations, entertainment technology companies, online content and software providers, and events companies, as well as professional athletes, musicians, artists, and media figures. Backed by a record of successfully resolving complex and high-value disputes involving licensing, contracts, intellectual property, and civil litigation, they represent some of the sports and entertainment world’s most recognizable names, defending them in court and counseling them on day-to-day business management, emerging risks, and industry-specific challenges.

Your Counsel — Your Team

Under the leadership of the Sports and Entertainment Practice Group’s founder and chair Joseph M. Hanna, Joe, a nationally recognized authority on the National Football League concussion litigation and member of the Law360 Sports Editorial Advisory Board, our attorneys have built reputations not only as superior litigators, but as keen and far-sighted commentators on business and legal trends in sports and entertainment, publishing widely and keeping our clients up to date through the award-winning Sports and Entertainment Law Insider blog.

Trenchant insights into trends and emerging issues equip our team not only to help clients avoid risk and leverage opportunities, but also to steer them toward the most cost-effective and strategic resolution of disputes. As a member of the International Institute for Conflict Prevention and Resolution’s Panels of Distinguished Neutrals, a group of global leaders in providing and promoting alternative dispute resolution, Joe has personally handled and supervised our experienced team in numerous mediations, helping clients meet their goals without the costs of litigation, discovery, and trial. When litigation, trials, or appeals are likelier to meet a client’s objectives — on time and under budget — we bring the full force and depth of our team’s experience to the task.

Our team also possesses deep experience in data privacy and digital marketing issues; media and entertainment litigation; entertainment transactional matters; intellectual property licensing and transactions; specialty insurance coverage and litigation; and the unique workers' compensation-related issues facing sports franchises, film studios, entertainment companies, and other clients in the industry.

Clients rely on Goldberg Segalla for boutique-firm levels of attention and finesse, but without the limitations of pigeonholed practices and narrow specialization. Our team is national, diverse, and deeply experienced in areas of the law beyond sports, media, and entertainment, allowing us to provide clients with truly comprehensive counsel and defense. Other team members add decades of experience handling major construction and development projects, multijurisdictional and multimillion- and billion-dollar transactions, national and international mergers and acquisitions, intricate matters of corporate law and governance, and high-stakes commercial disputes, including numerous trials and appeals in state and federal courts across the country.

When clients in sports, media, and entertainment choose Goldberg Segalla, they’re choosing this team: a cross-disciplinary and collaborative group of accomplished attorneys working across the firm’s entire footprint to deliver superior, proactive, cost-effective, and global legal services.

Daily Business Operations

Our attorneys are in daily communication with executives and in-house counsel for sports teams, studios, media companies, and others to advise on the full spectrum of legal issues pertaining to operations at every level. These include:

  • Corporate entity selection and formation
  • Trademark and trade dress selection, licensing, and enforcement and infringement defense
  • Drafting and negotiating agreements for the creation, development, production, distribution, licensing, and dissemination of all manner of entertainment content, products, and services
  • Marketing compliance, including text-based marketing
  • Privacy issues, including misrepresentation of photographic images
  • Right of publicity advice, enforcement, and defense
  • Clearance work and prepublication reviews
  • Data collection and security issues and breach preparedness
  • Corporate governance
  • Employment matters
  • All types of commercial litigation
Contracts, Licenses, and Releases

We also advise out clients in complex negotiations, leveraging the full weight of our experience, transactional finesse, and understanding of the sports and entertainment industries to protect our clients’ rights, ensure their talents and services are properly valued, and position them to achieve their long-term financial and career goals. With experience representing major movie studios as well as independent filmmakers, national-league teams, production companies, and celebrity musicians and entertainers, our services include:

  • License agreements
  • Entertainment unions and guilds
  • Entertainment joint ventures and entities
  • Merchandising/branding
  • Advertising agreements
  • Distribution agreements and licenses
  • Production agreements and licenses
  • Film agreements and licenses
  • Talent agreements and releases
  • Options
  • Commission contracts
  • Negotiate music publishing rights
  • Clearance work and secure requisite intellectual property rights for literary works
  • Negotiate artist management rights
  • Legal production for music festivals and other live events and club promoters

We also help our clients achieve the cost-effective resolution of high-stakes disputes surrounding contractual issues, including:

  • Performance, endorsement, and royalty agreements
  • Licensing agreements
  • Contract litigation and arbitration
Government Policy and Regulatory Compliance

We help our clients navigate and comply with complex and ever-evolving national and international regulatory schemes, including compliance under:

  • Communications Decency Act
  • Digital Millennium Copyright Act
  • Privacy Protection Act
  • Telephone Consumer Protection Act
  • Media-related laws
  • Open government laws
  • FCC regulations on indecency and obscenity
  • Consumer privacy and data security
  • Copyright and trademark licensing, enforcement and liability
  • International law

Led by attorneys with decades of experience handling all aspects of complex transactions for some of the world’s largest companies and brands, our Sports and Entertainment Practice Group guides clients through:

  • Purchase and sale of media and entertainment properties and businesses and sports teams and companies, including foreign teams and companies
  • Equity and debt financings
  • Mergers and acquisitions
  • Anti-dilution statutes
  • Leasing and real estate matters
Intellectual Property Rights

Our clients regularly produce groundbreaking inventions, artistic logos, hit songs, and award-winning films — and they trust us to defend them. We help clients protect their creative output through services including:

  • Intellectual property litigation
  • Management, protection, and optimization of intellectual property, including copyright and trademark registrations
  • Trade secret identification, protection, and misappropriation litigation
  • Trademark Trial and Appeal Board proceedings
  • Patent, trademark, and copyright licenses
  • Guidance on the doctrine of “works made for hire,” including employee inventions
  • Unfair competition defense
Protecting Publicity and Privacy Rights

Privacy is both a fundamental human expectation as well as a potentially valuable asset in the world of sports and entertainment. Because of the ubiquity of the internet and “smart” technology, we increasingly barter our privacy for social reasons; and this has shifted cultural expectations in ways that impact celebrities — athletes, entertainers, public figures — the most.

Our team helps athletes, entertainers, and high-profile media figures to protect their privacy, defend against defamation, and prevent businesses and individuals from using their names and likenesses for financial gain without consent. We can do this by catching language in contracts and agreements that might jeopardize privacy rights, as well as by aggressively pursuing litigation against those who violate those rights. As neither rights of privacy nor publicity are the subject of federal law, our team is primed to interpret pertinent state laws to defend our clients in any jurisdiction. We also regularly handle privacy- and publicity-related matters that intersect with First Amendment issues, slander, and libel.

Our Experience
  • Represented the world’s most popular brand of sports-themed beverage products in a dispute with a company breaching the NFL’s exclusivity agreement with its respective sponsors
  • Negotiated several successful outcomes for a two-time NBA All-Star and the client’s popular brand of sneakers and clothing
  • Handled a total of 18 premises liability matters over eight years for an NFL franchise, including security issues with the team’s venues
  • Represents one of the nation’s largest dealers of leading global sports apparel brands and a major distributor of athletic apparel to professional and college sports teams throughout the country, in contractual and commercial matters
  • Negotiated and reviewed commercial contracts for an NHL Hall of Famer
  • Represented a future NBA Hall of Famer in an agreement with a major sports apparel and sneaker company