The NBA is back! (It wasn’t gone for long)

Basketball and money on lawnAfter a very short off-season (71 days to be exact), the NBA is gearing up to commence the new 2020/21 season on 22 December with a 72-game regular season schedule. In the interim, fans can enjoy the NBA Draft and an unusually short free agency period.

In order to facilitate plans to begin a new season, the NBA’s Board of Governors (made up of the 30 NBA team owners) and the players approved the plans by majority, including changes to the collective bargaining agreement (CBA).

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Nikolay Bodurov vs Esteghlal: FIFA DRC considers ‘force majeure’ effect of COVID-19

Following the near global suspension of football activity, many clubs were put in the unfortunate position of being unable to satisfy their existing contractual obligations as significant revenue streams from gate receipts, sponsorship and broadcast were all severely impacted.

FIFA has recently published a decision which concerns the extent to which the global pandemic has caused a ‘force majeure’ event and whether that gave rise to a viable argument excusing a club’s non-payment of contractually agreed salaries.

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United States District Court Delivers RKO as Motion for Summary Judgment is Dismissed

A recent United States district court decision on copyright infringement has brought the issue of recreation of tattoos in video games back into the spotlight, and has cast doubt on an earlier ruling from another district court in a different judicial circuit.

The gravamen of the case was the digital depiction of five tattoos on professional wrestler and current WWE champion, Randy Orton, in the “WWE 2K” professional wresting video game series.  The plaintiff, tattoo artist Catherine Alexander, filed the lawsuit against the defendants (collectively, “Take-Two”), who develop the WWE 2K video game series and sought to recreate Orton’s tattoos in a digital format.  While Take-Two had obtained permission to use Orton’s likeness in the video game, Alexander claimed copyright infringement pursuant to 17 U.S.C., § 501 with respect to Orton’s tattoos, and argued that her consent to include Orton’s tattoos was required, but was not provided.  Importantly, Alexander had earlier registered copyrights for each of the tattoos at issue.

Alexander filed a motion for partial summary judgment on the issue of copyrighting, and Take-Two filed its own cross-motion for summary judgment, arguing that Alexander’s copyright claim was insufficient as a matter of law, and requested that the Court dismiss the claim accordingly.  Judge Staci Yandle in the US District Court for the Southern District of Illinois (Seventh Circuit) granted Alexander’s motion, but denied Take-Two’s motion.

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Messi scores goal in trade mark dispute: registering celebrity names as trade marks

The Court of Justice of the European Union (“CJEU”) has ruled that, after a decade-long legal battle, football ace Lionel Messi has the right to register his name as a trade mark.

This interesting case confirms that celebrity names are registrable as trade marks. However, whilst there are some advantages to seeking such protection, there are also some risks that need to be taken into account.

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Breaking stride? Elite running shoes back in the spotlight

New records

Issues surrounding athletics footwear returned to the spotlight this month as two athletes wearing new models of Nike running spikes ran in world record times at an event in Valencia, Spain.

Uganda’s Joshua Cheptegei and Ethiopia’s Letsenbet Gidey broke the men’s 10,000 metre and women’s 5,000 metre world records respectively wearing Nike’s ZoomX Dragonfly shoes at a meeting in Valencia, Spain.

Meanwhile, men’s marathon world record holder and Nike poster-boy Eliud Kipchoge completed the London Marathon wearing Nike’s Alphafly NEXT% shoes – the first time he has worn a version of the controversial shoes in an official race. Despite being surprisingly beaten to victory by Shura Kitata, it was notable that Kitata was also wearing Nike shoes (albeit from the Vaporfly range).

The four fastest official times in men’s marathon history have been set by athletes wearing the shoes since Kipchoge set his world record of 2:01:39 in September 2018.

Commentators are asking: is it still possible for runners wearing competitor brands to compete with Nike-sponsored athletes at the top level? Critics argue that Nike’s range of high-specification shoes – including the Dragonfly spikes for track races and Vaporfly and Alphafly ranges for road running – offer their athletes an unfair advantage. Among other features, the shoes’ soles include a spring-like carbon-fibre plating that assist with stabilising the shoe and directing momentum forwards during each stride.

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Navigating the salary cap in the NBA: Los Angeles Lakers

Basketball arenaIt is being reported that the Los Angeles Lakers have filed a career-ending injury application with the NBA in relation to Luol Deng’s contract. Luol Deng signed a four-year, $72 million contract for the Los Angeles Lakers in 2016. In 2018, the Lakers agreed a buyout with Deng, which allowed the Lakers to renegotiate the structure of Deng’s salary, waive the player so he is no longer on the team roster and spread his salary over several years to create more space under the salary cap per season. This means that, despite not playing for the Lakers since 2018, Deng has received and will receive $5 million per season from 2019 until 2021.

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Game-changer: following the developments in elite women’s rugby

Back in June, Sport Shorts considered the premature conclusion of the Premier 15s season, which was rendered null and void as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Following a near seven month period without any rugby for the elite of the women’s game, the newly branded 2020/21 Allianz Premier 15s campaign got underway on 10 October.  The season launched with relatively little fanfare, being played behind closed doors and with no broadcast deals secured.  The first of the planned 18 rounds did not prove uneventful, however.  The two new women’s teams, Exeter Chiefs and Sale Sharks, admitted to the competition following the league’s audit and (re)tender process, had a slow start to life at the top of English women’s rugby with 34-14 and 29-7 defeats to Gloucester-Hartpury and Loughborough Lightning respectively.  Elsewhere, Harlequins look set to be a force to be reckoned with this season after a host of experienced internationals re-committed to the club and the impressive side chalked up 103 unanswered points against DMP Durham Sharks.

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Five Stars to the NBA: A Successful Bubble

Basketball Money and Finance ConceptCongratulations to the Los Angeles Lakers who won their 17th NBA championship on Sunday night after beating the Miami Heat 4-2 in an entertaining series. After an incredibly challenging and unprecedented season, the LA Lakers were crowned champions.

The NBA, and Commissioner Adam Silver, have pulled off a meticulously executed project, which has been an unequivocal success; a blueprint for other leagues that may wish to emulate such a monumental task.

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Gambling sponsorship and advertising shakeup in Spanish football

The Spanish Government has published a proposal for measures which, if passed, will restrict gambling advertising in Spanish football. One of the proposed measures is the ban of gambling sponsors on football shirts. Although the measures are designed to protect consumers, they could have significant financial implications for Spain’s top clubs. It is worth noting that similar measures have also been recommended in the UK and elsewhere in Europe.

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Surf’s Up for Stand-Up Paddleboarding after CAS decision

In August this year, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) handed down its decision in the dispute between the International Surfing Association (ISA) and the International Canoe Federation (ICF) regarding the governance of Stand-Up Paddleboarding (SUP). Both international sports federations sought control over the increasingly popular sport at the world and Olympic level.

In the sport of SUP, one of the fastest growing sports in the world, an individual stands on a board and uses the paddle to direct themselves through the water. SUP can be practised in several environments, such as surf and open water as well as flat water.

Both the ISA and the ICF are recognised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) as the international sports federations governing surfing and canoeing respectively. The ISA and ICF had previously been unsuccessful in attempts to resolve the dispute through a conciliation meeting with the President of the IOC (reported by Sports Shorts in 2017) as well as mediation before the CAS. As a result, the parties were forced to resolve the deadlock via arbitration proceedings before the CAS in October 2019, the request being lodged by the ISA.

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