Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL) Disputes

The explosive growth of social media and recent changes impacting the ability of college athletes to monetize their name, image, and likeness (NIL) have substantially increased NIL licensing transactions. Unfortunately, this growth of NIL licensing has led to a substantial growth in NIL disputes. Today’s creators, athletes, and other influencers face serious risks around the use (and misuse) of their name, image, and likeness. Leading companies who seek to partner with these individuals also face challenges from an increasingly contentious NIL market. Robins Kaplan is uniquely positioned to help.

For decades, Robins Kaplan has represented both NIL licensors and companies who incorporate NIL strategies in their advertising efforts in disputes involving breaches of license, improper use of NIL rights, and other violations of “rights of publicity.” As highly skilled commercial and intellectual property litigators, we know that NIL rights—and associated trademarks—are often among our clients’ most valuable assets.

Leveraging a sophisticated knowledge of IP infringement litigation and formidable trial skills, our attorneys vigorously protect clients’ brand assets against infringement, dilution, and other unfair competition. We have experience representing high-profile athletes, authors, writers, producers, actors, directors, and musicians, as well as their estates and heirs, in claims related to copyright and trademark infringement, breach of contract and license disputes, profit participation, violation of rights of privacy, defamation, and more. We provide zealous advocacy to protect our clients’ valuable interests.

Our record of success includes victories on both sides of the courtroom in complex, high-stakes licensing, profit participation, and name, image, and likeness disputes. Our plaintiff-side successes include what is reputably the largest profit participation case in history: a $320 million judgment for the creator of the Who Wants To Be A Millionaire franchise in a breach of contract dispute over intellectual property rights. Successes for defendants include defense verdicts for licensees in disputes with hundreds of millions of dollars and attorneys’ fees at stake. Robins Kaplan was also proud to represent Olympian Gable Steveson in the first-of-its-kind Name, Image, and Likeness deal with the WWE.

Because of these and other client results, licensing professionals and other service providers in the sports and entertainment industries turn to us to handle their clients’ highest-stakes disputes.

About the Robins Kaplan Intellectual Property and Technology Litigation Group

The Robins Kaplan National Intellectual Property and Technology Litigation Group has a long history of extraordinary courtroom victories, innovation defense, and IP asset monetization. We represent some of the world's largest multinationals and most innovative emerging companies, as well as individual authors and inventors, across a full range of intellectual property matters, including trademark litigation, copyright litigation, license and breach of contract disputes, patent litigation, strategic IP monetization, trade secret litigation, and more.

Our experience spans traditional court, arbitration, and mediation venues, with successes in domestic and international arbitration, federal district courts, the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, as well as before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, International Trade Commission, and the Patent Trial and Appeal Board.

Back to Top