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Trademarks and Sport: the importance of their protection

  • 21 June 2010
  • Articles

Trademarks have become indispensable assets for many companies which see sport not only as an exciting recreational physical activity which is able to bring the world together, but also as a means to be exploited without borders, and have to be protected.
Trademarks and sport form a symbiosis around the spectator, who enjoys seeing their favourite sports stars and at the same time becomes a loyal consumer of the mark.

We now see many sportspeople wearing their kit with emblematic mark signs. Many players have even become advertising icons for a product or service mark, and many in fact obtain more income from the lucrative contracts which they sign with sponsors to advertise their products and services than they do for their sporting or professional activity.

This shows us the importance which trademarks have in sport. This importance is neglected when the trademarks are not registered, when registration is considered as an administrative expense, and not as an investment which may protect the company from bankruptcy.

Any mark visible on any court, track or pitch in the form of colourful logos or appealing advertising emblems for players, drivers or fans can be registered with the corresponding authority in the country of interest so as to have legal protection against third parties and to receive one of the most important rights: obtaining a registration certificate which recognises legal ownership of the mark’s sign and the right to use it exclusively with regard to fans/consumers and the competition.

What do we gain from this? Genuine distinction of products and services on the market, the ability to take action against illegal use by third parties, an increase in the companys commercial value, income from licences or franchises etc. Rights, achievements or advantages which, if registration is neglected, may be lost or simply not obtained, and which may also cause one of the most serious consequences: the risk of being involved in a legal process or lawsuit brought by a third party which believes its intellectual property rights have been affected or infringed. This will lead to expensive legal processes to obtain or recover ownership of the mark, fines or temporary or definitive closures, administrative custody, compensations for damages from civil courts, and intellectual property offences. These consequences will leave any sportsperson, spectator, sponsor or businessperson out of the game.

Accordingly, it is essential to duly protect and register in accordance with the legislation of each country any mark which aims to go onto the market, whether or not it is advertised in stadiums, on the kits of players or sports stars, or used to sponsor sporting events, to distinguish the sports official products or simply to make the corresponding products or services identifiable.

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Trademarks and Sport: the importance of their protectionTrademarks and Sport: the importance of their protection