Texas Businesses Slapped with Suits Over ‘Fight of the Century’

State & Regional

Boxing is serious business, especially if you ask the production company that owns the rights to the matches. Those pay-per-view events draw in big bucks and big audiences.

That is one reason your local bar or restaurant could be slapped with a lawsuit if management doesn’t follow the proper licensing agreement.

Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao faced each other in the ring, called “the fight of the century,” on May 2, 2015. 

J&J Sports Productions, a California-based production company which owns the rights to the fight, recently filed paperwork in federal court, targeting several Texas business and others around the nation, claiming the businesses showed the fight, but did not purchase the right license.

This is not just limited to the Mayweather vs. Pacquiao bout. Thousands of bars and restaurants across the country face lawsuits from the company, totaling more than 3,500 nationwide since 2007. At least 1,400 of those are in Texas.

“We’ve seen a plethora of lawsuits in Texas and around the country where broadcast rights companies go into restaurants or bars and see a business playing the sporting event and they probably do not have a commercial license, and they will take that and film that and submit an affidavit or some sort of statement to a law firm and then you’ll see the lawsuit two to three years down the line,” Texas Restaurant Association general counsel Kenneth Besserman said.

“Usually there’s a personal license and commercial license,” he explained. “Individuals can buy the products themselves and show it in their home, but businesses typically have to enter into a commercial contract with the entity, which is often much pricier than individual or personal contract.”

Besserman said the suits can serve as a lesson in intellectual property rights for some businesses and become a wake-up call.

“Our members themselves have intellectual property when it comes to menus, and to pricing, and to recipes, and they want to protect that, and so they do understand that and hopefully we can educate them going forward,” he explained. Besserman said he was unaware of any current cases against any TRA members.

A Bastrop bar named Ronnie’s One Oak Bar was one of the businesses hit with a suit last week. On Monday, the bar had a “Tina Time” sign out front. The lawsuit names a Louise M. Dean as the owner, but the staff said the establishment was under new management since the time of the fight.

Besserman said he thought the licensing organizations could more clearly outline the purchasing agreements and make them more affordable for small businesses.

“There are some businesses that struggle, paying thousands of dollars for a commercial license for, you know, one fight, and those are tight margins, and so hopefully there are ways that those costs can be taken down a little bit,” he added.

A legal representative for J&J Sports Productions did not return a request for comment on Tuesday.
It’s unclear how many cases went to trial and how many settled out of court.

VIEW GALLERY: “The Fight of the Century”

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