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Beaten to the punch: Texas businesses sued over fight rights

On the night of a big boxing match, you can walk into any of dozens of Houston bars, pubs and restaurants showing the opposing sluggers punching each other on big-screen TVs. The fighters and promoters often earn astronomical figures from these pay-per-view events.

In some cases, however, the establishments have not coughed up the commercial license fees that allow them to share the broadcasts with paying customers. A recent news article says thousands of bars and restaurants have been sued in recent years for showing boxing matches without the proper license, including 1,400 establishments here in Texas.

If you’re a boxing fan, you undoubtedly recall the most recent “fight of the century.” Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao faced off three years ago in a much-hyped, much-viewed battle. The company that owned the rights to that fight recently filed lawsuits in federal court naming several Texas businesses and more around the country for allegedly showing the fight though they had not purchased a commercial license.

A spokesperson for the Texas Restaurant Association said broadcast rights companies will visit bars and restaurants on the night of the fight and if the establishment doesn’t have a proper license, the proceedings will be videotaped and later submitted with an affidavit and lawsuit a couple of years later.

"Usually there’s a personal license and commercial license," the spokesperson said. A person can buy a license to watch the bout at home, “but businesses typically have to enter into a commercial contract with the entity, which is often much pricier than individual or personal contract."

If you or your firm face a dispute over the terms of a contract or other agreement, speak with a business law attorney experienced in crafting timely, efficient resolutions.

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