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Intellectual Property Rights Aid In Collegiate Athlete Compensation

By Zachary D. Messa | Categories: Intellectual Property | Share February 2015

Should college athletes be paid for their play?  The banter for and against payment has been going on for years never amounting to more than heated discussion. Some argue that the restraint on payment of such athletes is necessary to maintain the integrity of the game, while others take the position that these athletes generate significant revenues for their academic institutions and should share in the wealth.  This question is far from being answered, but significant inroads into collegiate athlete compensation has been put to rest by a federal court in Northern California.  Former and current collegiate athletes  brought a class action suit against the NCAA arising out of the NCAA’s prohibition against collegiate athletes receiving compensation for the use of their name, images and likeness in live game telecast, videogames, game re-broadcasts, advertisements, and other footage as an illegal restraint of trade.  The court sided with the collegiate athletes finding that the NCAA’s prohibition of athletes receiving payment for the use of their name, image or likeness was an illegal restraint of trade and that procedures could be put in place to allow the athletes to receive compensation either during or after their collegiate career.   Although a person’s name, likeness and image are not within the traditional areas of intellectual property, namely patent, trademark, copyright and trade secrets, it was the tool used to bring closure to at least a portion of the ongoing debate regarding collegiate athlete compensation.   Although many of us will not encounter the dilemma of receiving compensation for our name, likeness and image, knowledge, protection and enforcement of your intellectual property should not be overlooked.  As a Florida Bar Board Certified Intellectual Property Attorney, I provide clients with the knowledge and insight necessary to protect and enforce their intellectual property in trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets.


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