With the Qatar FIFA World Cup scheduled for later this year, an array of footballing superstars will be on show in the Middle East. Footballers all across the globe are cognizant of the number of eyeballs the global event garners and the opportunity it provides these athletes to present their brands to a global audience. Here’s some Football-IP trivia!
Over the years, various footballers have successfully registered trademarks for sports equipment and clothing merchandise. French footballer, Eric Cantona, is considered to be the first footballer to obtain a registration for his famous chant, OOH AAH CANTONA, in 1997. During the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, English footballer, Jesse Lingard, applied for four trademarks for his goal celebration for clothing and related merchandise. Other examples include, David Beckham’s DB 23, Cristiano Ronaldo’s CR7, Harry Kane’s HK and Gareth Bale’s ‘Eleven of Hearts’ goal celebration.
Interestingly, Lionel Messi had to wage a nine-year long battle to obtain trademark protection for his name, which was opposed by the Spanish cycling company, Massi, on the ground that the similarity between the rival logos would cause confusion. However, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that the Argentinian’s reputation should be taken into account when deciding whether the public would be able to differentiate between the two brands and held that the footballer was too well-known for confusion to arise.
With the modern footballer having an entourage of advisors, including lawyers, one can expect more and more footballers to obtain exclusivity over their initials/signature celebrations, etc. through trademarks and commercialize them as brands.