Maryland Bar Bulletin
Publications : Bar Bulletin : May 2007

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MSBA to Create Two New Sections

~Entertainment & Sports Law and Intellectual Property~

As the world grows increasingly high-tech, businesses are becoming more sophisticated, with complex transactions that often require the services of skilled lawyers to tackle their special needs. This is especially true for two relatively new substantive law areas that have soared in popularity over the last decade. Entertainment and Sports Law and Intellectual Property Law have seen an influx of new business clients and, thus, an increase in law practitioners.

To cater to the needs of practitioners in these fledging legal fields, MSBA is creating an Entertainment and Sports Law Section and Intellectual Property Section. In March, MSBA’s Board of Governors approved the establishment of these two Sections and, with the Association’s membership vote of the support in June at the Annual Meeting, the Entertainment and Sports Law Section and the Intellectual Property Section will be up and running. Like MSBA’s 24 other Sections, these two new Association entities will offer targeted services, excellent resources and valuable networking opportunities to MSBA members.

“Our two new Sections will offer greater service to greater numbers of members,” declares MSBA Executive Director Paul V. Carlin. “Our members, like the public at large, expect to receive services which are particularly relevant and useful to them. More often we find that one size does not fit all, but rather benefits might be aimed at particular segments of members.”

Intellectual Property Law
The term IP “reflects the idea that certain kinds of protectable matter may be thought of as being created solely by one’s intellectual or mental endeavors,” explains Larry J. Guffey, Chair of MSBA’s IP Committee. “It consists of those inventions, published works and product or service identifying marks that meet certain criteria such that one’s ownership rights (e.g., exclusive right to use) in them are protected, respectively, by government-granted or registered patents, copyrights or trademarks.”

There has been a steady increase in the number of high-tech firms in across Maryland with growing complex legal needs which involve the use, protection and creation of IP rights. Client demand for such things as copyrights, patents, trademarks, inventions, artistic and literary works and licensing to trade secrets, fair use, protection/security, ownership and public domain has led to the need for more skilled practitioners in this field to handle these legal cases. This inspired MSBA to create a Special IP Committee in 2006, and now, with 151 members, it is poised to advance to Section status in June.

The IP Committee already offers a number of services to its members. Since its inception, it has fostered collaborative discussions, offered networking opportunities and promoted interaction among its practitioners to enhance their quality of client service. Much of the Committee’s work is handled through its subcommittees: Program; Communications; Publications; and Membership.

It has also worked with MICPEL to present timely IP CLE programs, equipped its practitioners with relevant practice skills and forged partnerships with regional, national and international IP legal groups. “We have set up a website with a searchable member database that gives an overview of what areas each attorney handles,” reports Guffey. “This is a great networking tool as it functions as a comprehensive referral service.”
As a Section, it expects to enhance these services and broaden its scope to include luncheon programs, an e-newsletter, short webinars, involvement in MSBA’s Speakers Bureau, articles in the Bar Bulletin and additional MICPEL programs. It looks forward to becoming a Section in June.
Entertainment and Sports Law

In the last decade, there has also been a surge in the area of entertainment and sports law. Today, this unique area of law practice encompasses everything from film, music and literary publishing to multimedia, fine arts, copyright and trademark legal matters. While there is some cross-over and sharing of specific skills with the soon-to-be IP Section, as corporate and contract issues constitute some of the work in the entertainment law arena, too, Entertainment and Sports Law is a separate and distinct substantive area of law.

In 2002, MSBA created a Special Entertainment and Sports Law Committee to serve as a resource to these skilled lawyers. One of the reasons the Committee combines entertainment with sports law is because sports law largely involves contracts, agreements, trademarks, unions, merchandising rights and negotiations. These legal transactions are usually handled by sports agents, most of whom are lawyers. Now 120 members strong, this Committee seeks permanence as a Section status in June, too.

Chair Cheryl L. Slay reports her Committee serves as a forum so members can network and exchange ideas. To date, the group has sponsored MICPEL programs on key entertainment and sports law issues and held regular meetings. As a Section, Slay hopes it will expand services to include educational offerings, informative seminars and other resources to serve the needs of its members. It eagerly awaits ascension to a Section in June.

Upon MSBA membership approval, both Sections will be launched after the Annual Meeting in June. Members interested in joining either or both Sections may contact membership@msba.org to sign up, or refer to MSBA’s website at www.msba.org.

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Publications : Bar Bulletin: May  2007