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Non-traditional Trade Marks in Sports – An EU Perspective
By Manuela Macchi written for and published by LawInSport.com on the 1 April 2015. View the original article here.
Trade marks in sport are commonly constituted of word or logo marks like ‘MANCHESTER UNITED’ or Nike’s famous ‘swoosh’ logo .
Registered protection of trade marks is the safest and most cost efficient way of obtaining an easily enforceable trade mark right. Whilst some jurisdictions like the UK afford protection to non-registered trade marks that have acquired goodwill through their use, the enforcement of these non-registered rights relies on the expensive and time consuming exercise of evidence gathering in relation to the use of the mark, whereas a trade mark registration certificate is prima facie evidence of the existence of the associated right.
In recent years, the sports industry has seen a growing number of registrations and attempted registrations of marks that differ from what is considered the more traditional words and logos (as above), which can be broadly categorised as “non-traditional” or “unusual” trademarks. This article takes a trip through examples of such non-traditional trademarks, and explores the protection that sports brands can achieve from their registration, a process that, in the author’s opinion, remains underutilised despite the potential that registration offers to an industry that increasingly relies on the exploitation of Intellectual Property (IP) and IP related rights. (more…)