Trade marks in sport- can you benefit?
Whether you are a business in the sporting industry, athlete or sports team, intellectual property especially trade marks can be very beneficial to you.
In any business, the impact of intellectual property can be substantial. The creation of a strong brand which can be recognised by consumers can not only give the impression of quality but, in addition, it can generate extensive capital. This capital can open doors for development of your business, event or career.
Sport and the industry surrounding it, has only grown in popularity in recent years. With sport stars becoming household names and businesses rising as some of the most successful in the world, it is clear that branding is a big factor. A brand needs protection. The way to do this in the UK is through a registered trade mark. By registering your brand as a trade mark, you have the exclusive right to use it as well as the power to force others to not use it. Registration creates a monopoly over your trade mark for a period of 10 years with the option for unlimited renewals.
If you are in the position where you feel you do not need to worry about trade marks and protecting your brands, you may want to take a look at brands already established in the industry.
As the biggest grossing sports brand globally, Nike would be a good example to focus on. With its worth around $15.9 billion (over £11 billion), it is clear Nike has customer recognition across all spectrums. This could only be achieved through the correct use of intellectual property. In the UK, Nike has a number of registered trade marks including their name in the distinctive font as well as the well-recognised swoosh tick logo. It is not clear directly how much their trade marks generate, profits wise, however what is clear is the draw their marks have. Customers will instantly recognise the logo attached to goods or advertising and see it as an indication of quality. Following this, consumers will be more inclined to purchase their products over others that do not have a quality stamp of approval in the shape of their trade mark.
In addition to businesses having the ability to acquire trade mark protection, any sports personality could also register a mark. While this may seem inadequate, it becomes more important when considering unauthorised merchandise. There is a growing problem with a large amount of merchandise which uses celebrities’ names or images to give the impression it is genuine products released by the star themselves. The majority of this is in no way connected to the celebrity. By registering your name as a trade mark, you are preventing anyone using it to indicate your authorisation on goods.
An example of this is the fastest man of earth, Usain Bolt. After his building success, he has registered his name as well as an image of his famous pose as trademarks in a number of places. The majority of his registrations are in the USA but he has a number protected in the UK and the EU. This prevents any unauthorised use of his name which could be detrimental to him or his career.
While you may not have a multimillion business like Nike or the world recognition like Usain Bolt, trade marks can have a positive impact on you and the development of your brand.
If you want more information on how you can benefit through the use of trade marks, contact Jane Coyle at The Trademarkroom.
By Ellis Sweetenham