Media, Sports & Entertainment

As the media, sports and entertainment industries have become increasingly intertwined with each other—steadily representing an ever-larger swath of the economy–they have also given rise to broader and more complex legal issues for the various stakeholders. From working with team franchise owners to players and the leagues themselves, from helping TV networks, media companies and individual station talent, and from advising sporting venue managers and operators, to sports associations, celebrity chefs and artists, our lawyers have tackled and mastered the underlying legal issues driving these industries. They include such areas as licensing and intellectual property, mergers & acquisitions, mediation and arbitration, real estate, construction, commercial and public financing, and libel and defamation defense.

Ulmer & Berne’s seasoned attorneys have decades of experience in these and other areas of the law that regularly impinge on these rapidly moving industries. We understand the players, the technology and the landscape of the media, sports and entertainment industries. We help clients identify promising opportunities, structure crucial deals and negotiate the terms of key agreements. We also understand how the harsh spotlight trained on these high-profile sectors tends to complicate everything. We help our clients manage in what is often a chaotic, fishbowl environment, where mistakes are magnified.

Much of our legal work in this area centers on prevention, mitigating risk and anticipating bad things before they happen. We prefer to advise clients on how to avoid trouble. But when litigation becomes necessary, as it sometimes does, our experienced litigation teams help clients vigorously defend their interests in court, whether they arise from their First Amendment rights or their rights under a contract.

Our Business Law group has helped craft and close many transactions in sports, entertainment and media industries, including the purchase and sale of interests in professional sports franchises, modeling agencies, racing series, as well as agreements relating to the use and operation of sporting venues.

Our IP team has advised sports franchises on how to protect and advance their intellectual property portfolios, by defending against misuse of trademarks and copyrights. We also help clients navigate the emerging landscape of how the Internet and e-commerce can both expand and complicate their property rights.

Our Public Law group has represented public agencies, team owners and other stakeholders in complicated public-private partnerships to build and manage major sports venues. This work involves mastering various land-use and zoning regulations. As major sports have increasingly become partnerships between private team owners and public taxpayers, we help structure deals that create maximum revenue streams for each.

Our Media team has served as outside counsel to television stations, performing pre-broadcast review of scripts and defended libel and defamation cases lodged against media outlets.

Several of our practice groups have helped one of the world’s largest sports-management organizations protect the wide-ranging interests of its celebrity clients, leverage and protect its extensive intellectual property portfolio, better exploit emerging technology channels and explore and structure meaningful strategic alliances and joint ventures.

Our attorneys understand the issues facing clients in the media, sports and entertainment industries. We have the experience to help emerging enterprises grow and thrive and to help incumbent organizations remain vibrant, even in the face of an onslaught of competition and the continuous challenges of fledgling technologies. We deliver timely, creative solutions to our clients’ challenges, and we do so in a discreet, professional and cost-effective manner.

Representative Experience

  • Obtained summary judgment dismissal of copyright-infringement lawsuit against a major Hollywood studio.
  • Served as head of a public authority overseeing Major League sports venues, delicately balancing the needs and interests of fans, franchise owners, taxpayers, political leaders, developers and others.
  • Represented several National Football League players on their contracts and personal legal matters.
  • Obtained dismissal of libel lawsuits against a weekly newspaper.
  • Represented buyers and sellers of major league sports franchises.
  • Advised in the client acquisition of a major Formula One racing division.
  • Pursued litigation on behalf of a client against the leading sports ticketing company.
  • Advised in the structuring of international media rights for major sports properties.