Fans of English football will all be too familiar with Peter Crouch’s distinctive goal celebration – his robototic dance – not least because he scored 105 Premier league and international goals and played for England 44 times, writes David Little, a Partner in our Corporate and Commercial team who increasingly handles Sports Law cases too.
I always thought it was a matter of time before a player’s agent in particular would realise there was commercial value into trademarking a famous player’s goal celebrations, and so it has come to pass.
The growing impact of new technology and the increased potential for commercial exploitation of player data during matches, where there is a strong case that players have not consented to such commercial exploitation is a growing area of sports law.
As I wrote here, the international football players’ union, FIFPro, has recently issued its own ‘Charter of Player Data Rights’ demonstrating that the future use of players’ data is likely to continue to be a contentious issue. For players’ data you can now also read their gestures.
Marcus Rashford, the Manchester United super striker has recently been pointing to his head with his right finger whenever he has found the back of the net. The Sun reports, “His [Rashford’s] finger salute is a nod to [Manchester United’s coach) Erik ten Hag, who has instilled a positive mental attitude in Rashford.”
According to the paper Rashford has applied to the UK’s Intellectual Property Office to trademark a silhouette design. If passed, the patent would protect against bootlegs for ten years on everything from computer games and digital images to sports gear, clothing, shoes, phone cases, books, educational and motivational services.
Usain Bolt’s lightening strike pose is another gesture that his lawyers have sought to be trademarked, and for good reason. It’s internationally famous. So too as Mo Farah’s ‘mobot’ heart gesture. These are part of their brand, and as such can be legally protected, as trademarks.
I’d be interested to learn if you think there are other player’s gestures worthy of being trademarked?
As John McEnroe might have screamed, “You cannot be serious?”
Oh, yes we are!
Contact our Sports Lawyer
David Little is a Partner in the Corporate & Commercial team and also Head of Sports Law for the firm. If you would like to contact him please quote Ref CB378 on either 020 7631 4141 or email email@example.com.
The above is accurate as at 31 January 2023. The information above may be subject to change during these ever-changing times. The content of this note should not be considered legal advice and each matter should be considered on a case-by-case basis.