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Zuffa Sues Agent Ken Pavia and Bellator Over ‘Theft of Trade Secrets’

(The little guy may look sweet, but he bit a toddler’s face at a birthday party later that day. Wasn’t the first time that Pavia’s done that, either.)

Prominent MMA agent Ken Pavia — whose client roster includes such well-known fighters as Martin Kampmann, Chris Lytle, Anthony Johnson, and Cristiane "Cris Cyborg" Santos — is in serious hot water with the UFC. As first reported by Yahoo!’s Kevin Iole, Zuffa LLC has filed a suit alleging that Pavia passed along trade secrets and confidential Zuffa documents to upstart MMA promotion Bellator, which used the documents to help run its business. Bellator is named as a co-defendent in the suit, as well as other unnamed individuals and corporations that Zuffa alleges participated in breach of contract. From the Yahoo! piece:

According to the suit, filed Wednesday in Clark County District Court, Pavia delivered confidential contracts, including fighter agreements, to Bellator after being asked to do so in a July 4 email to him from Bellator founder Bjorn Rebney

An email which Zuffa’s lawsuit alleges is from Rebney to Pavia on July 4 was attached as an exhibit to the 16-page suit. In it, Rebney writes, ” … You’ve been great about sending us ‘All’ of the seminal docs from the UFC, so that we can re-do them and implement them for Bellator.”

Later, the email Zuffa alleges to have been written by Rebney continues, “Please list each in terms of what it is for and how the UFC uses them/implements them. … Then I’m going to have our team Monday re-type them and we will sufficiently alter them such that they will appear to be ours and not theirs.”

The response that is purported to have come from Pavia is brief and says, in its entirety, “Still I (sic) vegas. May take 24 hours to organize as some forms go to the guys in my office.”…

According to the suit, “The improper disclosure of Zuffa’s operations documents and confidential information by Pavia, MMA Agents, and the Doe and Roe Defendants constitutes a distinct act of dominion wrongfully exerted over Zuffa’s personal property.”

It further states, “The improper use by Bellator of Zuffa’s operational documents and confidential information in order to conduct its competing business operations constitutes a distinct act of dominion wrongfully exerted over Zuffa’s personal property.”

Zuffa seeks actual and punitive damages and a permanent injunction barring Bellator or Pavia from using Zuffa’s assets, including its intellectual property.

Pavia and Rebney have not yet released official reponses to the allegations. It isn’t clear how the e-mails in question came into the possession of Zuffa, but let this serve as a warning to all you white-collar crooks out there: If you’re going to conspire to commit theft of intellectual property, don’t do it over e-mail. And if you must do it over e-mail, at least be vague and use euphemisms to mask what you’re talking about. I mean, for God’s sake, "You’ve been great about sending us ‘All’ of the seminal docs from the UFC, so that we can re-do them and implement them for Bellator.” Genius, Bjorn. Next time, try this: "Thanks so much for the pizzas, Ken. I think we can figure out the recipes from here."

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crizzy- February 7, 2011 at 11:04 am
Man, this email really looks like it was typed up by Dana White himself, lol. How can you all actually believe it is real? The way it is written is so unbelievable.

I mean come on, “Please list each in terms of what it is for and how the UFC uses them/implements them. … Then I’m going to have our team Monday re-type them and we will sufficiently alter them such that they will appear to be ours and not theirs.”

I am surprised Dana didn't add "Thanks for helping me steal the UFC's valuable intellectual property!"

Dick_Gozenya- July 30, 2010 at 8:24 pm
Do I need to remind you people that Bjorn Rebney is the son of the Winnebago Man? Seriously? That sort of a childhood puts any and all odds concerning happenstance on wild card in my book.
Dick_Gozenya- July 30, 2010 at 8:17 pm
They were copies of Dana's contracts with the devil written in the blood of human infants. Dana sold his soul for rock and roll!

And the dragon comes in the NNNNNNNIIIIIIIIIIIGGGGGHHHHHTTTT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Seoul Brother- July 30, 2010 at 8:16 pm
@ MRuss:

1) So what if Pavia is a lawyer? Seriously? Elliot Spitzer is a lawyer. So is Edwin Meese III, and John Ashcroft. Shit, so is Alberto Gonzalez. I'm not impressed that he holds a Juris Doctorate degree.

2) Oh absolutely. But your assumption is that they were "private" emails. Let's face it - if half the shit in these emails is true, then these fuckers could be charged with felony counts of stupidity. I wouldn't put it past morons of this caliber to enact any degree of security you or I would take for granted.

3) I disagree. All they really have to do "officially" is to call their business practices into question, which they've done. You can't ignore this sort of allegations, and what's worse for Pavia and Bellator is that they're already being judged by the harshest bench in the world - THE FANS.

4) Zuffa will more than likely see this to the end in court and throw their considerable weight and resources behind slamming the shit out of Pavia and Bellator. If those twats can't afford to stand and bang in court, then that's their problem. I wouldn't be surprised to hear allegations that Zuffa would relegate fighters represented by Pavia to the bottom tier of a UFC Live or Fight Night Shit, Kendall Grove stands a better chance of getting on Spike-broadcasted prelims than Pavia figthers. If Zuffa can't officially smack the shit out of Pavia in court, they will be savvy enough to "suggest" to a Pavia-represented fighter that it ain't gonna be so good for their career in the UFC as long as that cocksucker is their agent.

5) This mamaluke is rocking Team Punishment gear? Goddamn, for that alone this fleshbag needs to have a Mentos & Diet Coke enema.
Seoul Brother- July 30, 2010 at 7:37 pm
Well, without blowing too much smoke up Zuffa's "our shit don't stink" ringpiece, there isn't a whole hell of a lot of viable competition and/or threats to their businesses. But if Pavia is that fucking dumb, and if staff at Bellator is so fucking stupid NOT to know that this sort of correspondence should NOT be conducted in an easily decipherable manner, then those feebs deserve to be humiliated, punished, prosecuted, and convicted. Not to mention spit upon, shit upon, and ass-raped. Stupidity on this level is shocking, and these fuckers need to be taken out of the gene pool.

Why the fuck should Zuffa share their business practices? They fought when nobody would back them, and when mma wasn't a squirt of piss compared to what it is now. I genuinely believe that if there is to be honest and fair competition between two parties, both have to be on equal footing. If one side doesn't want to earn their stripes on their own, then they deserve to be exposed for the charlatans they are. Of course, if all of this is an example of Zuffa Dirty Tactics, then will any cries for justice amount to anything substantial?
mt59801- July 30, 2010 at 1:31 pm
Is the format of a contract really that important? Not being able to see the details of the suit makes it hard to decide who's wrong but to me it sounds like a case of "How are the UFC's contracts written?" not anything that's really a trade secret. It would make sense to have a format that is similar to the flagship organization of the sport. I know when I negotiate contracts with vendors I can usually say "Brand X gives us a 3 year warranty that covers parts,labpr etc. so we'd expect something similar from you" without being sued.
MediumRare- July 30, 2010 at 12:44 pm
Weak. Bellator is not a threat to the UFC. They're doing exactly what Dana has said Strikeforce should be doing. And they're doing it well.

All they're doing here is using the UFC legal docs as a model to create their own. They're doing nothing more than saving themselves some lawyer fees. And good on 'em.

The UFC is merely ensuring Bellator fork over plenty of cash to some blood-sucking lawyers.

First suing etc and now this. Seems like the UFC has become infested with too many lawyers.
Fedor- July 30, 2010 at 12:25 pm
OMG seriously what is with the UFC? They are trying to have a Monopoly in the MMA world and be the only organization out there! They are trying to sue every other organization or if they can't do that the will counter-program them every time they put on an event. It's getting ridiculous if you ask me. Greedy bastards...they're already multi-millionaires, what more do they want?
J-Dog- July 30, 2010 at 12:23 pm
^^^ Yeah, the verbage used can't get much more incriminating. I mean, come on... "Then I’m going to have our team Monday re-type them and we will sufficiently alter them such that they will appear to be ours and not theirs.” Really? Did someone just fall off the turnip truck?
LET IT RAIN- July 30, 2010 at 10:29 am
i can't believe they would be so inept as well. You NEVER put anything like this in writing. Coming from a sales background, when offering discounts that are above and beyond what the manufacturer allows, it becomes a verbal only sales pitch. Even the receipts can be manipulated with backdoor rebates. i find it somewhat shocking that this person in charge of a multimillion dollar organization was not familiar with the repercussions of putting something as sensitive as this in writing. Either total dumb fuck, or Zuffa posturing/trying to manipulate the situation.
Swedish- July 30, 2010 at 10:08 am
Ken Pavia is an uber douche and deserve to get dragged behind a horse through the town square.

Did anyone read his contributions at MMAJunkie. He refers to himself as "the Pav" in 3rd person.

That's enough in my book to deserve a trip to hell. I hope Dana anally rapes him with cacti.
Mike Russell- July 30, 2010 at 9:30 am
 A few things.1. Pavia is a lawyer.2. The case will depend largely how lawfully Zuffa obtained copies of private emails.3. They will not only have to prove intent (as the emails suggest) to use their documents, they'll have to prove that Bellator/Pavia actually did it. 4. Zuffa sued a former employee who worked for the IFL a few years back for "sharing trade secrets" and the case was dismissed, so we may see happen is that Rebney's and Pavia's names get dragged through the mud and Ken gets banned from UFC-WEC shows. He was quoted in the Sherdog article that prompted Dana to call Loretta Hunt a "fucking faggot" and the UFC has long since suspected him of leaking the contract info for the piece. I've heard it was someone else, but Rob Nashville from MMA Payout tweeted that the VP of the UFC has since let it be known that he was going after Pavia.Should be interesting to see what happens with the case. Hopefully his fighters don't feel the wrath of Zuffa.
J-Dog- July 30, 2010 at 9:24 am
I don't see that much harm in it honestly. For my photography business, I've downloaded sample legal forms to help me get the right clauses and legalese in my contracts. It didn't make me successful overnight and it didn't help me take any business away from anyone. It just helps me keep from getting sued and protects my rights. (In my case these are contract forms that other photographers have shared to be helpful, I didn't steal anything).

So bellator got a hold of some contracts so they could see all the legal clauses the UFC is using. Whooptie-do. They still need to be able to sign and PAY fighters (ahem, Impact), get a good production crew together (ahem, Strikeforce), get venues, be profitable (ahem, Affliction), etc, etc, etc, etc. There's a lot to running a good fight org I'm sure. How they word their fighter contracts doesn't have much to do with their chances for success.

The UFC is just being a big bully, as usual. DW will not sleep until he has a monopoly. He needs a big 'stache, cane, and a top hat so he'll look like the Monopoly guy.
NealTaflinger- July 30, 2010 at 8:16 am
Not the first time that the UFC has cracked Pavia's skull over his business practices but it's def. the most serious. Witholding judgment until Bellator and/or Pavia responds.
justscrappin- July 30, 2010 at 8:07 am
On a side note...I'm sure that Dana isn't all buddy-buddy with any managers...considering he is looking out for his brand and it's best interests. Where is a manager is looking out for his fighter's best interests.....meaning...I don't see him letting a manager get close to the UFC's business model. This definitely seems fishier then Lindsay Lohan's nostrils.
Steffmeister- July 30, 2010 at 8:01 am
Let's just hope that the UFC don't decide to take it out on Pavia's fighters...
justscrappin- July 30, 2010 at 7:49 am
I understand that Pavia is a he obviously has access to contracts...but what else could he possibly be privy too? As far as Ufc contracts go....I can guess what they say too. Blah blah make this much...not much until you fuck someone up bad enough on tv...then you might get a raise and extension. We have the right to terminate your contract for any reason...cuz we are sweet like that. Don't you dare do anything to piss off Dana...or we will destroy you. We own you...your likeness...your thoughts, hopes and dreams. Don't go thinking, hoping or dreaming unless we sez so. Sign (your soul away) on the the dotted line with this devil's tail dipped in babies blood. OH NO! The Ufc is going to sue me now. If they let Pavia have access to anything besides his fighters contracts...that's their bad.
Ballkick- July 30, 2010 at 7:31 am
I smell puppy doody,....and it's not coming from Pavia's puppy.

Anyone who is running a multimillion dollar fight organization, surely would have access to high priced legal talent that would be on par with any other multimillion dollar fight organization.

The question for me would be why would Bjorn and his business partners be so inept?....they wouldn't....or?.....would they be so "Internet naive" as to pass e-mails back and forth documenting their misdeed's.

Which leads me to ask also,....How the fuck Zuffa got a hold of a multimillion dollar organizations e-mail? the IT department!

Mind you,....the problem with common sense is,......that it's not all that common.

If they did do what they are being accused of and documented doing, they will get what's coming their way.
It all sounds a bit ludicrous to me.
itsgalf- July 30, 2010 at 7:05 am
"and if you must do it over e-mail, at least be vague and use euphemisms to mask what you're talking about."

This is what makes me question how legitimate the supposed e-mails are.

"please list each in terms of what it is for and how the UFC uses them/implements them. … Then I’m going to have our team Monday re-type them and we will sufficiently alter them such that they will appear to be ours and not theirs.”"

That is awfully specific.

Sine- July 30, 2010 at 7:02 am
why anyone would put that information in an email is beyond me. it's so stupid I think it's true...
Onan- July 30, 2010 at 7:00 am
Could Rebney have been so astoundingly stupid to be so specific about corporate espionage in an email??

It seems so blatant as to not be real. "Thanks for helping me steal ideas from the UFC and make them look like mine. We'll really get them this time. Oh and please make sure to delete this after you read it. Would want this to get out like those Tiger Woods texts huh? Haha!"
destinationblood- July 30, 2010 at 6:59 am
For some reason I feel like the UFC may be afraid of what Bellator might become in the future. So far Bellator has done everything right, signing relatively unknown fighters, putting on good fights, great tournaments and not overextending themselves by signing past their prime fighters to huge contracts while bankrupting themselves in the process. Bellator is basically taking the formula for success that the UFC has implemented over the years, very smart on their part....if it aint broke dont fix it, or atleast copy it and make it better, thats what every business does
jimbonics- July 30, 2010 at 6:55 am
So much for Season 3!
Viva Hate- July 30, 2010 at 6:48 am
Will Rex be writing articles breaking down the court case?
Nut Puncher 9000- July 30, 2010 at 6:45 am
Bellator...did I just hear a toilet flushing? Oh that was just your future...