Owner of Sports Illustrated Sues Energy Drink Giant Following Disorder at Magazine

(PatriotWise.com) — The owner of Sports Illustrated filed a lawsuit against energy drink owner Manoj Bhargava on Monday, accusing him of failing to pay the rights to publish the magazine, the New York Times reported.

In a lawsuit filed in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York, Authentic Brands Group alleged that Bhargava and his publishing company, Arena Group, have not paid $48.75 million in publishing rights. Authentic Brands is also suing for damages, accusing Bhargava of infringing on its trademarks and copyrights.

The lawsuit is the latest public dispute between Authentic Brands and Bhargava, the founder of 5-Hour Energy drinks. His attempted takeover of Sports Illustrated’s parent company has prompted several lawsuits, not to mention turmoil at the magazine.

New York-based media company Minute Media took Sports Illustrated away from Bhargava’s Arena Group in March after striking a deal with Authentic Brands. Minute Media pledged to hire back some of the employees Arena Group laid off in January. It also agreed to continue the print edition of Sports Illustrated, something Arena Group threatened to discontinue.

In its lawsuit, Authentic Brands accused Bhargava of opting for “lawlessness” in dealing with the magazine by deliberately refusing to pay the license and interfering with the owner.

Bhargava gained control of Arena Group after obtaining an ownership stake in the company and buying its debt. He then ousted Chief Executive Ross Levinsohn and hired executives of his choosing, the lawsuit said.

Arena Group was to pay an annual fee of $15 million to Authentic Brands for the license to publish Sports Illustrated. However, Bhargava failed to pay January’s installment, according to the suit.

The lawsuit also accuses Bhargava of failing to pay the $45 million termination fee to Authentic Brands when, in February, it revoked Arena Group’s licence to publish.

Following Minute Media’s takeover of Sports Illustrated, Arena Group shut down all of the magazine’s websites and prevented an orderly transfer of the data from Arena Group to Minute Media.

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