Who Owns the Rights to the Golden Globes?

It’s all in the agreement. In a case where contract law again will determine an IP rights case (it’s filed as a Patent/Trademark Action at the U.S. District Court, Central District of California), the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) has sued Dick Clark Productions (now owned by Red Zone Capital Partners II, LP, a private equity fund managed by Daniel Snyder’s Red Zone Capital Management Company, LLC [Dan also owns the Washington Redskins, which is why his name may be familiar to you]), for breach of contract, trade infringement, and unfair trade practices. The complaint is nearly 70 pages long.

According to the Associated Press, the HFPA owns the Golden Globes and its intellectual property. They first hired Dick Clark Productions to produce the Globes in 1983. The current agreement expired upon the completion of the January 16, 2011, program; however, prior to expiration of the current agreement, Dick Clark Productions entered into a long-term contract with NBC, selling broadcast rights. According to the association, DCP had no right to enter into that agreement, and the agreement undervalued the franchise considerably (the newly negotiated license fee from NBC reportedly goes from $17M in 2012 and rises to $26M in 2018. The 2011 fee paid by NBC was reportedly $13M).

Dick Clark Productions argues they have the option to renew the contract, as they have had from the beginning, and they exercised that option. “Our respective rights under the contract are clear. The HFPA cannot unilaterally change the basis on which DCP and the HFPA have done business for almost three decades." HFPA attorneys (O’Melveny & Myers) pulled out Contract Law 101, stating no contract lasts in perpetuity.

The next hearing date is set for March 7, 2011, in front of Judge Valerie Baker.