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March Madness Is Back. So Is NCAA Trademark Enforcement.

Loeb Advanced Media & Technology partner Douglas Masters, managing partner of the firm’s Chicago office, is quoted extensively in a Law360 article discussing how this year’s NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments will be the first March Madness in which college athletes can profit off their names, images and likenesses (NIL), adding a new concern to trademark enforcement for the NCAA.

"Now we have a set of athletes who have relationships [with companies] and are going to be doing whatever marketing or promotions that they have set up to do, and they are going to be doing that presumably during the tournament and down in New Orleans or whatever venue they are at for the games," Doug said. "That is another element to add in to the mix that did not exist in past years."

According to Law360, college athletes will have to be careful and wary “so as not to conflict with the NCAA's trademark rights and the exclusive rights of the NCAA's corporate sponsors.”

"The NCAA is not engaged in marketing directly with student athletes," Doug said. "They can make their own deals, they can make deals with NCAA partners, but the NCAA is not directly engaged in marketing activity with student-athletes."

Doug also told Law360 that if an athlete has an endorsement or sponsorship deal with a company that is already an NCAA tournament sponsor, then there is more leeway to use NCAA marks in ads than for, say, an athlete with a deal with a rival company, he said.

To read the full article, please visit Law360's website (subscription required).