Entertainment Law FAQs

Are you an artist, musician, author, or party who publishes music or other content? You may need to brush up on some legal basics in the entertainment world. For #FAQFriday, we’ve compiled 3 common Q&A’s about entertainment law:

1. What is entertainment law?

Entertainment law encompasses a field of legal services for those in the entertainment industry.  These services may include intellectual property law (copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets, etc.), privacy law and rights of publicity, and general business law such as contracts.

2. What type of services do I need?

Each individual that works in the field of entertainment has unique legal needs and assets to protect.  An experienced entertainment attorney can tailor services directly to such needs and assets, including ensuring necessary copyright protections are in place, agreements are negotiated with your best interests in mind, takedown notices are filed if necessary, and more.

3. If I am not a singer, actor, or any type of “entertainer” or media creator, does any of this apply to me?

It might! Many businesses use media, such as music, videos, or artwork, or may hire entertainers at some point for their own marketing projects. An experienced entertainment attorney can help set entertainers and those that work with them up for success.


For more information check out our services or contact us today.

(This is not intended as legal advice. Contact a lawyer for assistance in your particular situation.)

Trademark Mistakes: 5 Common Ways You May Be Losing Value

Whether you are just starting out or have a large portfolio of protected names, logos, and slogans you know the value of protecting your brand. However, it is common for businesses to overlook their intellectual property. When it comes to trademark registration, there are ways to get the most out of your IP strategy. Below are some of the most common trademark mistakes that may be costing your business:

Top 5 Trademark Mistakes

1. Not Choosing a Strong Mark:

Picking a weak mark that is descriptive or generic can result in consumer confusion and be difficult or impossible to register with the U.S. Trademark Office. A weak mark can set you up for a lifetime of headaches trying to protect and enforce your mark. However, a strong mark can make you stand out in the marketplace, and it is often easier for owners to register and enforce their rights in a strong mark. We can help you choose a distinctive mark that will set your business up for success!

2. Failing to Pre-Clear Your Trademark:

Pre-clearance is important! We can conduct a preclearance search for two reasons. First, it helps you determine the full scope of rights available to you for a mark. It also ensures that your mark does not infringe any third-party rights. According to the U.S. Trademark Office’s data from 2019, nearly 83% of trademark applications received an Office Action.  Having an attorney guide you through an initial preclearance process can reduce the likelihood of your trademark application receiving an objection.  Understanding the potential risk surrounding your use of a particular mark can decrease the chance of another trademark owner initiating an infringement action against you as well. As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

3. Not Thinking About Future Expansion:

It is not uncommon for businesses located in different geographic areas (such as on the east coast vs. the west coast) to start using the same mark. However, when either business attempts to expand or to federally register its mark, conflict can arise.  Sometimes a business that initially starts using a mark in connection with specific goods and services later wishes to expand such offerings, only to find that someone else is already using and has registered the same mark in connection with the new goods or services.  Thinking these issues through with an attorney on the front end can make expanding into new territory, whether geographically or in the marketplace, much smoother.

4. Not Enforcing Your Rights:

The U.S. Trademark Office does not monitor for trademark infringement – it is up to owners to police and enforce their own marks. Failing to properly monitor your mark and to take action against potential infringers can lead to big problems. These include the potential for trademark dilution and even losing rights in your mark. We can monitor your marks and help you protect your rights!

5. Missing Maintenance Filings and Renewals:

Federal trademark registrations require maintenance filings after 5-6 years of registration, and renewal filings every 10 years to keep the registration “alive.” If you miss a maintenance filing or renewal deadline, your federal registration will be cancelled. We understand the time and expense our clients put into their trademark registrations, and can help track upcoming maintenance and renewal filings so that you never miss a deadline!

It can be tricky to know all the steps and possible hurdles in trademark registration. Although doing it yourself may save time and money in other instances, taking a “DIY” approach with valuable aspects of your business could lead to more headaches than it’s worth. Trademark mistakes may be common but it doesn’t have to happen for you.

Courtney Reigel, Esq. & Lily Taggart

(This is not intended as legal advice. Contact a lawyer for assistance in your particular situation.)

If you’re ready to move your business forward, ask about our branding optimization session or trademark focused consultation!


Name, Image, Likeness in College Sports

Last month marked a long-awaited policy change for many college athletes.  Under new rules issued by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), student-athletes may now financially benefit from their name, image, and likeness (NIL). Additionally, new legislation became effective in several U.S. states on July 1, 2021. The shift follows years of legal proceedings and public pressure to grant student-athletes access to a larger portion of the billions of dollars generated each year by college sports.  While many students and entrepreneurs alike are celebrating the lucrative financial opportunities sure to follow, some still question the best way to navigate and protect all parties involved.

NIL Basics & NCAA Policy Change

Name, image, and likeness, (sometimes referred to as “NIL” for short), are all tied to the overarching legal concept of “right of publicity.”  Essentially, this right refers to an individual’s ability to capitalize on, and be compensated through third-party endorsements, for their NIL.  NCAA athletes are now able to make money from a variety of business ventures that were previously prohibited.  For example, the new rules allow athletes to profit from endorsement and advertising deals, as well as from their social media accounts, making public appearances or speaking engagements, teaching sports lessons, signing autographs, performing music, or starting their own businesses.

Policymakers, faculty, students, and businesses are working through the evolving landscape of NIL opportunities under the new NCAA rules. While the NCAA policy stipulates that students may participate in NIL opportunities consistent with the state law where their school is located, only certain states, including Florida, Georgia, and Alabama, have enacted laws regulating NIL.  Specifically, the new NCAA rule does not override relevant state NIL laws, colleges’ and universities’ specific NIL rules, or conferences’ NIL policies.

College athletes should therefore review NIL rules in the state where their school is located. That way they can work with their athletic departments to understand any school and/or conference-specific rules and restrictions.  Students competing for colleges/universities in states without an NIL law may initially have more freedom until additional guidance or laws are enacted. Further, smaller schools may not have the same ability as larger university to properly advise students on NIL opportunities and risks.

What now?

While students will have new opportunities to capitalize on their NIL, it is important for both students and the businesses working with them to understand any laws or policies that may impact their transactions. Many state laws and school/conference policies prohibit athletes from endorsing alcohol and tobacco products.  Several state laws and school/conference policies also prohibit athletes from using their school’s trademarks or other copyright material in endorsements, or do not allow athletes to sign deals that conflict with their school’s sponsorship agreements. For example, a football player on a team sponsored by Adidas may not be allowed to wear another brand of shoes, such as Nike or the student’s own brand, during games.

Numerous college athletes have already taken advantage of the new rules by signing major endorsement deals with national brands such as Smoothie King and Boost Mobile.  Students at local universities and colleges in Richmond are eager to take advantage of these opportunities as well. Along with that there is certainly room for smaller businesses to become involved with college athletes.[1]

For students considering entering into a new contract to profit from their NIL, staying well-informed is a must.

State laws and NCAA rules allow college athletes to hire professional help in the form of lawyers, agents, and tax professionals.  It is important that businesses consult with legal professionals when entering deals with students as well.  Attorneys can help students protect their own NIL and intellectual property, such as trademarks and copyrights they are using to make a profit.  Legal professionals can help both students and businesses understand the complex laws and rules that are in place regarding student-athletes’ NIL.  Importantly, understanding the laws and policies can help students and businesses avoid infringing others’, including colleges and universities, intellectual property rights.

We are continually monitoring and keeping up to date with changes in intellectual property and business legislation. If you have any questions about NIL protections and how it may affect you, contact us today. – Courtney Reigel, Esq. & Lily Taggart

(This is not intended as legal advice. Contact a lawyer for assistance in your particular situation.)

[1] VCU, UR enter ‘evolving area’ of name, image, likeness benefits for athletes | College Sports | richmond.com

Colorado Privacy Act signed into law: Are more state data privacy laws on the horizon?

Courtney, an Associate Attorney at Gavin Law Offices, recently returned from an exciting trip to Colorado.  Her trip came soon after Governor Jared Polis signed the Colorado Privacy Act (or “CPA”) into law on July 8, 2021.  With Polis’s signature, Colorado officially became the third state behind California and Virginia to enact a comprehensive data privacy law.

The CPA is set to take effect on July 1, 2023, just months after the Virginia Consumer Data Protection Act (“CDPA” or “VCDPA”) and the California Privacy Rights Act (“CPRA”) become effective on January 1, 2023.

While the three laws share many similarities, important differences exist amongst them as well (for example, the Colorado Privacy Act does not appear to exempt non-profits, which are largely excluded from the requirements the CPRA and CDPA plan to impose on covered businesses).  Businesses will likely struggle to understand their compliance obligations as new state data privacy laws continue to be passed across the United States. These obligations include varying terminology and definitions, exemptions, and requirements under the patchwork of state laws that apply to them.

Attorney Courtney Reigel surveys the land of Colorado just as she surveys the landscape of Colorado Data Privacy legislation

In addition to the new California, Virginia, and now Colorado laws, several other states such as Pennsylvania, North Carolina, South Carolina, and New York are currently considering legislation related to data privacy and protection.  A question many industry groups, businesses (and their attorneys), and consumers are asking is whether the state data privacy laws will continue, or if a federal data privacy law will be passed in the near future.  Further, could a federal law aim to pre-empt the existing numerous state data privacy laws we have just seen get passed?  While a comprehensive federal data privacy bill has not been seriously considered yet by Congress, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand introduced the “new and improved” Data Protection Act of 2021 last month.[1]

We will continue to track state data privacy laws, as well as the new federal data privacy legislation, and look forward to updating you regarding the same.

– Courtney Reigel, Esq.

(This is not intended as legal advice. Contact a lawyer for assistance in your particular situation.)

[1] https://www.gillibrand.senate.gov/news/press/release/gillibrand-introduces-new-and-improved-consumer-watchdog-agency-to-give-americans-control-over-their-data

Social Media and Your Intellectual Property

Popular social media services such as Facebook and Instagram have billions of active users. In addition to allowing companies to share their personality and brand values, online platforms also function as impressive e-commerce marketplaces. This provides an opportunity for businesses to reach an impressive number of users. However, when individuals or businesses use social media, they may not be considering the following issues related to intellectual property:

  • Trademark infringement
  • Copyright Infringement
  • Rights of Publicity/Right of Privacy
  • Licenses to the social media service (i.e., Instagram, Facebook, etc.)

In terms of infringement (whether trademark or copyright), there are two scenarios you may encounter on social media. One involves someone infringing your own intellectual property rights and the other occurs when you infringe a third parties’ rights, whether intentionally or not. There are often several layers of intellectual property involved in a social media post. Common examples include music, photographs, videos, artwork, and brand names and logos. Understanding intellectual property ownership can be complicated, and it is best that you consult with an attorney to protect your work and avoid infringing anyone else’s as well.

Additionally, users of certain media services such as Instagram grant the platform a non-exclusive license to any material they post. Many users are not aware that they are agreeing to such a license when they consent to Instagram’s terms of use and start posting on the platform.

Further, using someone’s image or likeness online without their permission could implicate rights of publicity and/or privacy laws. Being aware of these intellectual property issues on social media is a helpful first step. Your business’s social media presence is an important part of your brand that deserves legal protection. Additionally, avoiding actions that infringe other’s intellectual property rights can help prevent financial and reputational harm. We can assist you with your legal concerns regarding you and/or your business’s online presence.

Courtney Reigel, Esq. and Lily Taggart

(This is not intended as legal advice. Contact a lawyer for assistance in your particular situation.)