Rooting for Your Team? Trademark it!

Considering that sport is now a big business accounting for more than 3% of world trade, we think it only just that Trademarkia devotes a post for sport and its associations off the field. Indeed, according to Sepp Blatter, the President of FIFA, the World Governing Body of Football, sport is now a ‘product’ in its own right, and there is much to play for, not only on but also off the field of play; namely Trademarks!

Man United
Man United

When Manchester United Football Club conducted a survey into the world’s most popular football  teams in 2003/4, they emerged three times as popular as any other English Premier League or European Soccer Team. Chinese and UK fan bases alone represented 33 million fans. Seeing the stats its no surprise that Man United currently has trademarks registered in various countries around the world, and the number continues to grow. They register trademarks in all the territories which are important to the development of the Business, and take enforcing their IPR very seriously. In addition to the names Manchester United’, ‘Manchester United Football Club’ and ‘Man U’, the Club has also registered its Crest in various classifications, ranging from clothing to financial services.
Like many UK football clubs, London-based Arsenal Football Club had not given much weight to intellectual property (IP) protection in its formative years. All that changed in 2002 when it infamously took street trader Matthew Reed to court for selling unofficial merchandise outside the club’s old ground, High bury, and passing off its UK-registered trademarks ‘Arsenal’, the club’s cannon logo and its crest device .However, because of the numerous revisions of the crest, Arsenal was unable to copyright it. Although, the club had managed to register the crest as a trademark, and had fought (and eventually won) a long legal battle with a local street trader who sold “unofficial” Arsenal merchandise.


The Court of Appeal delivered its eagerly awaited judgment in Arsenal Football Club v Matthew Reed. The case concerns the extent to which a registered trade mark can be used, that is exclusive rights to use words and devices on goods. In a landmark decision the court has come down decisively in favor of trade mark owners. The court decided that non trade mark use could amount to infringement where it undermined the essential function of a registered trade mark which is to identify the origin of the goods and introduce the principle of ‘dilution’ into UK trade mark law. The basic legal requirement of distinctiveness must be satisfied, and then it is very much possible to register the names and associated logos of sports club as trademark.

AC Milan
AC Milan

Also, take the example of A.C.Milan, the Italian professional football club based in Milan, Lombardy. The mark is applied under Clothing which is Class 025 and the mark was assigned the trademark serial number of 79034117. Also AC Milan has got around 8 more applications that can be easily checked out at Trademarkia too!

So go ahead root for your team with a trademark!

Print Friendly