As the sports and entertainment industry continues to evolve, it’s important for athletes, entertainers, and influencers to stay on top of the latest strategies for protecting their intellectual property and maximizing their NIL deals. In 2023, the following strategies will help you make the most of your NIL deals and ensure a successful future.
1. Know the latest NIL laws
The legal landscape for NIL deals varies by state, industry, and nature of promotion. Because NIL is such an emerging field, there is not uniformity in the law. Student athletes must simultaneously comply with state laws, NCAA guidance, and any rules and procedures specific to the institution where they play (university, college, conference, or school district). It’s important to stay on top of the latest laws and regulations in order to ensure that your NIL deals are compliant. Research recent court decisions and consult with a qualified attorney to ensure you’re up-to-date on the latest laws.
2. Negotiate for better NIL terms.
Don’t be afraid to negotiate for better terms in your NIL deals. The reality is that companies will attempt to get you to sign agreements that strongly benefit them. For example, several unrepresented players on the Iowa football team entered into NIL agreements with YOKE gaming, a platform that allows users to play video games with athletes. In exchange for just $20 for a social media post, the student athletes granted YOKE perpetual royalty free and irrevocable rights to their likeness, voice, and image. Those terms are extremely unfavorable to the athletes because they are not able to revoke those rights at any point or receive additional compensation—regardless of where the athlete’s life or career goes. An experienced attorney can help you craft a strong case and advocate on your behalf to ensure you receive the best possible terms.
3. Utilize the latest NIL technology.
Technology is quickly changing the way we do business, and it can also be used to your advantage when negotiating NIL deals. Utilize the latest tools and programs to help you stay ahead of the competition. Several sites help you benchmark your influence and social media impact over time and against your peers. Additionally, some schools, like Ohio State, provide in-house NIL programs and resources for students seeking NIL deals. However, remember that universities cannot represent student athletes, so it’s important to have a lawyer negotiating and reviewing NIL deals on your behalf.
4. Have an NIL plan.
It’s important to have a long-term strategy for your NIL deals. For instance, one sponsorship deal could negatively impact your ability to endorse products within similar categories. Or, you may inadvertently violate school policies based on the product you endorse. For example, the University of Louisville in Kentucky advised students that any NIL deal with Barstool Sports would violate university policy, because any deal would endorse Barstool Sportsbook (Barstool’s gambling subsidiary). Also, aggressive contracts can hold you to non-competes or reserve rights to sponsors even after you are no longer paid (like the YOKE gaming example above). An experienced attorney can help you develop a comprehensive plan for protecting your intellectual property and maximizing your NIL deals without violating applicable laws or policies.
5. Secure your NIL rights.
Your NIL rights do not cover the creative conveyance of your name, image, or likeness. For instance, the photographer of your studio or impromptu shoot is typically the original author/owner of the copyrights in that shoot. Make sure you have properly contracted to secure all brand rights needed to monetize on social or in distribution.
These strategies can help you maximize your NIL deals in 2023 and beyond. Make sure you stay up-to-date on the latest laws and consult with an experienced lawyer to ensure you’re making the most of your NIL deal.
About Kevin Christopher
Kevin is the founder and principal of Rockridge®, a 4x B Corp Best For The World and Real Leaders Top 150 global impact company. He is annually recognized as a SuperLawyer, and has received numerous professional awards ranging from Conscious Company Magazine’s Top Business Leader to the Federal Lab Consortium’s technology license Deal of the Year. He has been profiled in B the Change, Forbes, the Los Angeles Times, Sustainable Brands, and many other media outlets highlighting sustainability and technology leaders and is widely recognized for his thought leadership and initiatives at the nexus of impact and innovation.
Impact + Innovation Credentials
An entrepreneur-attorney, Kevin’s recently founded Quantiscope, a BARDA DRIVe accelerator launched AI company advancing ML enterprise models for drug discovery, as well as climate tech Calliope Bio, a computational synthetic biology company launched from the Nucleate Activator and advanced through the Berkeley Skydeck accelerator. Kevin’s entrepreneurship career began with Resolute Therapeutics, a CARB-X awardee developing a novel class of broad spectrum antibiotics.
As an ESG leader, Kevin is a 2050 Fellow at the Yale Center for Business and Environment (CBEY), and select member of the World Economic Forum’s Crypto Sustainability Coalition. Kevin founded Tennessee’s local B Corp network B Tennessee and served as sponsoring counsel to B Academics.
With a background in public-private partnerships, Kevin is a National Institutes of Health (NIH) RadX faculty member, and National Science Foundation (NSF) program evaluator for the Center for Bioplastics and Biocomposites (CB2) as well as the Carnegie Mellon Center for Quantum Computing and Information Technologies (Q-CIT).
. Kevin’s practice areas include:
- patent and trademark prosecution, licensing and litigation;
- corporate law, with an emphasis on benefit corporations, socially responsible businesses and high-growth emergent companies;
- government contracts, with an emphasis on innovation funding;
- corporate and investor financing; and,
- technology commercialization.
To meet with Kevin Christopher, schedule an appointment through Calendly or email him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.