Authentic Brands Group sends cease and desist to nonprofit

August 25, 2011

Authentic Brand Group (ABG) recently sent a cease and desist notice to nonprofit Tap Out Cancer for use of the “TapouT” trademark. As a result, the small nonprofit must rename itself.

According to its web site, Tap out Cancer is a nonprofit which raises awareness through the Brazilian Ji Jitsu community. It raises money “[t]hrough merchandise sales, special events, sponsorships and direct donations.” On its web site it noted that it is in not affiliated with TapouT. But, this was not enough to avoid ABG’s request.

When a vendor expressed concern about the nonprofit’s use of the “Tapout” name, the nonprofit sent an email to ABG requesting it receive its “blessing” to use the “Tapout” name. According to the nonprofit, a month and a half passed before it received a cease and desist email.

Tap Out Cancer’s web site reprinted a portion of ABG’s correspondence:

While we applaud your work with charitable causes, we unfortunately cannot grant permission for this use of our federally registered trademark. In addition to owning a stylized mark which you mention you tried to distinguish yourself from, we also own the word mark.

For your information, this use of our trademark in your business name is, in fact, and infringement of our intellectual property rights, including, without limitation our trademarks. It is not our desire to cause you any undue expense in connection with this matter in light of your organization’s goals. As such, we are willing to settle the matter with you at this stage if you can agree to: immediately cease and desist from the use of the trademark TapouT in any and all domain names, corporate names or otherwise, including by transferring the domain name to us.

(via Tap Out Cancer’s web site)

Payout Perspective:

The web site entry by the nonprofit reflects that they understand the reasons for ABG’s letter. While the timeframe took longer than expected, ABG is in its legal right to protect its trademarks. If not, more infringers would follow as the nonprofit points out. This has potential to be a public relations problem although the nonprofit used the “Tapout” name without permission. ABG’s correspondence is delicate and makes sure it is not impersonal in requesting that the nonprofit cease the use of “Tapout.”

Its a good cause, but the nonprofit should have asked ABG, or an attorney, prior to establishing the name of the nonprofit. Fortunately, it appears that there will be no further legal ramifications from this. While Tap Out Cancer indicated that it will lose money from merchandise it intended to sell, its better to take the loss now than to have to lose more money in legal fees to defend a lawsuit.

White-Arum beef about competition Nov. 12th

August 24, 2011

Boxing promoter Bob Arum is not concerned about competition from the UFC on November 12th when his fighter, Manny Pacquiao fights Juan Manuel Marquez. Arum told ESPN that less than 5% of the UFC audience crosses over and that he’d be more concerned with competition if Fox aired a movie opposite the fights.

Arum believed that the UFC’s debut on Fox was no accident although Nov. 12th has historical significance for the UFC as it is the anniversary of UFC 1. White, a Pacquiao fan, acknowledged the competing events that night at the UFC-Fox press conference. It appears that the UFC on Fox debut will not interfere with the actual Pacquiao-Marquez main event.

Of course, Dana White fired back at Arum as only White can. He told Yahoo! Sports:

You had the ability, Bob Arum, to make boxing great. But the problem was, you were greedy. You’re a greedy pig, just like all the other guys who were involved in boxing. All you ever did was try to rip money out of it. You never invested a dime into the sport of boxing to make it great, to make it last, to create a future for boxing.

(H/t: Bad Left Hook)

Payout Perspective:

Arum’s comments about the competition from the UFC is part bluster and part ignorance. There is an obvious overlap in followers of the two sports. Arum’s dismissal of the UFC’ competition shows a level of disdain he has for MMA and although he does not admit it, a competitor for fan dollars. Perhaps Arum simply does not understand the sport of MMA or feels it is really not a competitor, but taking shots at the UFC is a definite sign that he is taking notice. Usually White is the one with the first verbal volley, but his response was biting and somewhat true.

Another issue here is the November 12th date. Did the UFC set the date on the same night as Pacquiao-Marquez III on purpose? Is the UFC trying to make a splash on network tv and steal the headlines while making a statement about the sport of MMA versus boxing? Or, was it pure coincidence?

Strikeforce Challengers 18 – 71% comped tickets

August 24, 2011

MMA Junkie reports that Strikeforce Challengers 18 which took place August 18th drew 1,890 fans for a total gate of $53,670.

Via MMA Junkie:

Of the 1,890 total attendees, 1,341 tickets (71 percent) were issued complimentary. With 549 paid tickets, the gate produced a $97.76 average ticket price.

Payout Perspective:

The numbers are in line with July’s Strikeforce Challengers event although 18 outdrew 17 in attendance and gate. With the low number of paid attendance and high number of comps, I wonder if Zuffa ever decides to give out all of the tickets to ensure a packed house and find other ways to monetize the event. The move to Las Vegas reflects the fact that Zuffa is cutting down on the expenses of travel for this series.

Bellator 48: 226,000 viewers

August 23, 2011

MMA Junkie reports that Bellator 48 held this past Saturday scored an average of 226,000 viewers on MTV2. The replay garnered 114,000 viewers. Via MMA Junkie:

Of Bellator’s 14 MTV2-televised events, Bellator 48’s ratings rank fifth. Overall, the three monthly “Summer Series” events averaged 242,000 viewers. Season four, which took place earlier this year, averaged 204,000 viewers.

Payout Perspective:
Decent numbers for the end of the Summer Series. The average viewership shows the steady improvement Bellator has had on MTV2. With the rumors that Bellator may move to Spike TV upon the UFC’s departure, the numbers show that there is a growing audience that would like to see the Bellator product. If Spike TV decides to continue to air MMA programming, Bellator could be the likely candidate to fill that void.

Southern California promotion launches Fight Club OC TV

August 22, 2011

Southern California promotion Fight Club OC is offering its fights online for $4.99. The local promotion’s success has given itself a reason to try to expand to a broader audience.

Fight Club OC offers monthly boxing and MMA bouts in a small, but well-attended venue in Costa Mesa, California.

Via Fight Club OC:

“After just four shows in 2011 the buzz surrounding the launch of Fight Club OC has been tremendous,” said (Fight Club OC promoter Roy) Englebrecht. “We have more media covering the shows than ever before, our 10 All Inclusive VIP Suites are sold out, we have our largest number of merchandise vendors ever, and our Fight Club OC Outdoor Cigar Lounge was packed the whole night, so I made the decision that this unique night of fight action needs to be available to fight fans all over the world, and we decided to launch Fight Club OC TV and boy did we ever pick the right night.”

Payout Perspective:

This is the next step for regional promotions. Fight Club OC’s use of the internet is a good way of broadening its audience. Even if you aren’t in Southern California, you can watch fights online and for a reasonable price. For Fight Club OC, if the online fights are successful, it could look to sell advertising and/or sponsorship for Fight Club OC TV.

Fox Sports Radio to simulcast UFC on Fox

August 22, 2011

Dana White made the PR rounds today and had a stop with Southern California’s Petros and Money show. Of the notable things said during the half-hour interview was the fact that Fox Sports Radio would simulcast the UFC’s first show on Fox.

Other notable mentions during the interview:

  • White indicated that the Fox deal came out of nowhere. A relationship with former Direct TV exec Eric Shanks helped foster the deal.
  • The ESPN “car wash” was yanked after the Fox deal was announced, but the issues with ESPN have been resolved. The car wash is the media tour within ESPN where White would have been on multiple ESPN shows in one day to promote UFC 134.
  • White stated that 40 million Brazilian fans will watch UFC 134.

Payout Perspective:

The radio broadcast is a throwback to the “old days” of boxing when radio announcers described the fights. This is will be interesting to see if this will catch on or whether the radio simulcast will be just a one off to promote the first UFC show on Fox. In today’s world of instant media, will the old fashion use of one’s mind to visualize an event catch on? Obviously radio works in baseball, basketball and football. But its a little harder with sports like golf and boxing where viewing is needed much more to understand what is going on. Play by play will be key for people to follow along with a radio broadcast.

As it relates to the ESPN “car wash” cancellation, White stated that the issue has been “resolved.” It was not clarified what that meant, but perhaps cooler heads have prevailed and ESPN will grant White the opportunity to promote UFC 134.

White’s stated that 40 million viewers would watch UFC 134. With that overstatement, I will give this understatement: 40 million seems like a lot of people. This is merely promoting the card, so I wouldn’t hold White to the number as I doubt there was research done to come up with the number.

MFC-Tapout Energy sign sponsorship deal

August 21, 2011

The MFC announced a sponsorship deal with Tapout Energy drinks. Terms of the deal were not disclosed although the MFC indicated that Tapout Energy would be prominently displayed during its next event October 7th.

Via Mike Whitman at Sherdog.com:

“The MFC has always taken great pride in being an organization that thrives on the support of its outstanding corporate partners,” said MFC owner Mark Pavelich in the official release. “Tapout Energy coming on board with the MFC is unquestionably one of the proudest moments in the history of this company.”

Payout Perspective:

The UFC is not the only MMA organization tha has corporate sponsors. The signing of Canadian energy drink Tapout Energy is good support for one of the better organizations in Canada. Earlier this year, Good 4 U drinks entered into a sponsorship agreement with the MFC. For Tapout, its a good way to market its product to its likely target demo of young males 18-34. Out of curiosity, if anyone has had a Tapout Energy, let us know what you think of it.

White claims ESPN hates the UFC

August 20, 2011

In response to a tweet, Dana White wrote that ESPN has always hated the UFC. He clarified this tweet with another one stating that Jim Rome was the only good thing about ESPN.

It appears that the reaction is due to ESPN cancelling White’s interview promoting UFC 134.

Via MMA Mania:

Sounds like an awfully strong reaction over a cancelled interview and perceived lack of coverage. Perhaps there is more to the story that we don’t know? After all, ESPN airs “MMA Live” each week, which features stories revolving mostly around the UFC.

This is even more odd when one considers how much coverage ESPN dedicates to sports that routinely air on FOX networks, such as football, both college and pro, baseball and auto racing. And if White wanted more coverage for the UFC, wouldn’t it be a bad idea to make disparaging remarks about “Worldwide Leader in Sports?”

Payout Perspective:

Typical response by White? MMA Mania is correct in writing that the reaction is over the top considering how much ESPN has covered the UFC. Not to mention Stephan Bonnar and Rashad Evans are mainstays with MMA Live and the networks has provided coverage of many UFC PPVs. It is also included it in ESPY nominations too. Also, the MMA page on ESPN.com is predominantly UFC-Strikeforce news. And, of course, the appearances by White and UFC fighters on Rome is Burning.

Perhaps its the glee of the Fox deal, but White’s comments seem blown out of proportion. Could ESPN be blowing off White as a passive aggressive way to get back at the UFC for the Fox deal? Maybe. This seems a little like when Spike played the premiere of UFC 132’s Countdown midday. But here’s an example of the ills of the social media. Think before tweeting. Telling ESPN off doesn’t help keep a relationship with Rome is Burning. After all, Rome is on ESPN.

On a broader scale, the Fox deal will be interesting to see if the UFC will need to reign in some of its language. In addition, what will the UFC do if a homophobic or sexist slur is made during a broadcast? Will it be “business as usual” or will there be a need to address the situation?

FOX Deal May Be Just What New York Needs

August 20, 2011

I am certainly not alone in my view that the reported seven (7) year Fox/UFC deal is monumental for the sport of mixed martial arts on a number of levels.  As Kevin Iole points out over at Yahoo!, Dana White is a winner because he has fulfilled a dream of taking the UFC to network television, Fox is a winner because it is tapping into a sport that appeals to the highly coveted 18-34 demographic, but “[n]o one, though, will benefit more than those who have turned the sport into what it is: its fighters.”

Perhaps this is implicit, but let’s not forget about the fans of the sport that will now be exposed to a better, more refined production that will be available, as I understand, almost every day of the week.  Add to this the increased exposure the sport will receive with people who are otherwise not familiar with its intricacies, and I think the fan base should grow exponentially in the coming years.

For me (and many New Yorkers) I believe there is also significance to this deal that should not be overlooked – indeed, it should be capitalized on.  As you may recall, on November 17, 2010, I wrote an article for MMA Payout, A History Lesson (or History’s Lesson) on Mixed Martial Arts in New York, where I traced the history of the sport and the circumstances that ultimately led to the ban on the sport in New York in 1997.  In this article, I pointed out that the key to reversing the ban, in my view, was to increase exposure through, inter alia, the mainstream media to convince the public that this sport is not what it once was.

Regrettably, New York politics is a tricky beast, i.e., even though the votes are there to pass the bill that would legalize mixed martial arts, the political process (if we can call it that) has derailed the bill year-after-year.  This is not dissimilar to the political situation in the late 90s where the votes were there to make the sport illegal but the then Senate leader was preventing a vote on that bill.  Ultimately, the New York Times jumped on the legality of what it deemed barbaric and this and the resulting public reaction led to a complete 180—mixed martial arts went from legal to illegal virtually overnight.

Now (as then) I think the commitment by Fox, a major network based out of New York, to the UFC and mixed martial arts can help shine the light on, and expose, the superficial, strawman arguments of the opposition, e.g., Assemblyman Bob Reilly.  Once the public understands the sport—and New Yorkers understand that the state is losing money to neighboring states because it fails to sanction a sport that is not only legal in 45 states but is on network television, the pressure to put the bill to a vote should overwhelm any purported countervailing forces at play.

While I realize Zuffa tentatively plans on doing the first Fox event in Anaheim in November, New Jersey would be a solid option to show both Governor Cuomo (and New Yorkers) that mixed martial arts is here to stay both in our backyard and on network television.  This could be monumental for New York as the budget process gets underway.

Fight Lawyer

Justin Klein is an attorney at Satterlee Stephens Burke & Burke LLP in New York City where he concentrates his practice in commercial litigation and represents clients in the fight industry.  He regularly addresses current legal issues that pertain to combat sports, including efforts to legalize MMA in New York, at his Fight Lawyer website.  He is a licensed boxing manager with the New York State Athletic Commission as well as the founder and Chairman of the Board of the New York Mixed Martial Arts Initiative, a non-profit organization that gives inner city youth the opportunity to experience the emotional and physical benefits of martial arts training.  Justin lives in New York City where he trains in jiu jitsu and boxing.

DISCLAIMER

The information in this post and on my site consists of my opinion only, i.e., it is not the opinion of my employer or anybody else. In addition, and because this is my opinion, it is not intended to be (and is not) legal advice or an advertisement for legal services. This post provides general information only. Although I encourage interested parties to contact me on the subjects discussed in the articles, the reader should not consider information on this site to be an invitation for an attorney-client relationship.  I disclaim all liability in respect to actions taken or not taken based on any contents of this post. Any e-mail sent to me will not create an attorney-client relationship, and you should not use this site or my site to send me e-mail containing confidential or sensitive information.

Jon Jones featured in Yahoo! Sport’s Elite Athlete Workout series

August 19, 2011

UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jon Jones is featured in Yahoo! Sport’s Elite Athlete Workout series. You might recall that Rashad Evans was a featured athlete a couple weeks ago.

The web series also included the workouts of Maurice Jones-Drew, Larry Fitzgerald and Apolo Anton Ohno.

Similar to the Evans feature, Summer Sanders follows Jones through a daily workout, a meditation session and speaks with him about his diet. Ironic (or maybe not) that these two were the first mixed martial artists picked to do this series.

The Workout

Meditation

The Diet

Payout Perspective:

This web series is an interesting look into what elite athletes do to become elite. Many people wonder what athletes do when they workout and what they eat to stay in top shape and this series helps sheds some light. With the UFC now on Fox, Jones will be a featured fighter and this series is a good way to introduce him to the mainstream. Jones seems at ease in front of the camera and this workout series is another great example.

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