Posts by Jesse Saivar

Jesse Saivar specializes in intellectual property matters specifically related to the entertainment industry, including copyright, trademark, and domain name/website issues, as well as the negotiation and drafting of entertainment industry contracts.

Why Skip Bayless Should Probably Focus on the Super Bowl and Shut Up About This Whole “Kaepernicking” Trademark Application

So last week, I was on my 173rd consecutive hour of consuming blog articles, news stories, tweets, posts, video interviews, transcripts of interviews, analyses of transcripts of interviews, and opinions on the analyses of transcripts of interviews about Manti Te’o and his imaginary dead girlfriend, when I noticed that something else critical happened in the world of sports.  OMG OMG OMG!  Did you hear that Colin Kaepernick, NFC champion quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers and flat-billed hat enthusiast, recently “trademarked” his signature, tattooed-biceps-kissing touchdown celebration now known as “Kaepernicking?”

Wait, WHAT?!  Does this mean that when I finish this blog, Colin is telling me I can’t celebrate by jumping up from my desk and kissing my beautiful biceps?  Have you seen my biceps?  It’s hard for me to look down at them and not kiss them!  It’s like I have Kate Beckinsale and Jessica Chastain staring up at me from each bicep, lips pursed, like some insane Popeye fever dream.

In my panic, I poured through the incomprehensibly large number of stories about this.  But then I had a thought.  No, not “What am I doing with my life?”  No, not even “What is everyone at ESPN doing with their lives?”  No, my thought was “Wait wait… I’m a lawyer, damn it!  I actually know what all of this means!  These guys don’t!Continue reading the full story . . . »

Q&A: Why Are Unsolicited Submissions Policies So Brutal?

Q:  For some 10 years now, I’ve been trying to penetrate the 10 foot thick wall called “unsolicited.”  How do I get through it? I have no agent.

A:  We can answer your question, but frankly, you may not like what we’re going to say.  Unfortunately, that 10 foot thick wall is probably as old as the Great Wall of China and is equally as impenetrable.  For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of submitting a script to an individual, production company, studio or, god forbid, law firm only to have it returned to you with a letter classifying it as an “unsolicited submission,” we can give you a little background. Continue reading the full story . . . »

Q&A: Does Being “Pay or Play” Mean I Get to Direct My Movie?

Q:  I’m a writer/director.  I wrote a script that’s getting some traction.  I obviously want to sell it but on one condition:  I have to direct the movie.  I don’t think anyone else can do it justice…  A producer just presented me with an option agreement.  In our conversations, he agreed that I could be the director.  In the option agreement, it says that in the event the project receives financing and if a few other conditions are met, I’ll be engaged to direct the film on a “pay or play” basis.  I know that “pay or play” is a good thing so does this mean the producer is essentially agreeing that I’m the director?

A:  When I first started practicing entertainment law, I believed the term “Pay or Play” referred to the next hot NBC primetime game show, which I assumed would be hosted by Gallagher.  Fortunately for all of us, it’s not.  However, I’ve found that while it is a very commonly used contract term, and everyone wants it in their agreements, there is (as evidenced by your question) some confusion about the full extent of its implications. Continue reading the full story . . . »

Q&A: How Do I Protect Myself From a Producer Flipping My Script?

 Q: A producer has offered to option my script.  I’m just starting out so the numbers are pretty low (it’s a 12 month option for $1,000 with a purchase price of the WGA scale).  I’m cool with that but have one problem with it:  what happens if she turns around and sells the option to a studio for a lot of money?  I think that’s what she plans to do.

A:  Pat yourself on the back, my friend.  You just spotted an issue that is often overlooked in standard option agreements.  To answer this, let’s talk a little background. Continue reading the full story . . . »

Q&A: What’s the Difference Between a Screenplay Option and a Book Option?

Q:  Is there a big difference between an option for a screenplay and an option for a book?

A:  Did you ever get the magazine Highlights when you were a kid? The one they had in dentists’ offices which had Goofus and Gallant and the hidden pictures game?  If so, you probably played the other game in the magazine where you’d be shown two similar pictures side by side and you’d have to spot the differences.  If there were a Highlights for lawyers, we could play the game with a screenplay option and a book option because the two do appear so similar on the surface.  On closer inspection, however, you’d find a few subtle differences and one major one:  the book option would include a section referring to the author’s “Reserved Rights.” Continue reading the full story . . . »

Q&A: What’s the Deal with These “Short Form” Option Documents?

Q:  I was recently presented with an option agreement.  At the end of the agreement there are two more short agreements.  One is a “Short Form Option.”  The other is a “Short Form Assignment.”  Why am I signing two options?  And why would I agree to sign a short assignment agreement which says they own all the rights when they haven’t exercised the option yet?

A:  Option Agreements are like rap stars.  They usually travel with a posse, albeit their posses are much shorter than the posses accompanying rap stars.  Rap stars hang with posses for two purposes: they want protection and they want to put the world on notice that they’ve arrived.  The Short Form posses that hang with Option Agreements accomplish a similar goal:  they are used to protect the optioning party due to the fact that they put the world on notice. Continue reading the full story . . . »

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