Trademark Registration

A Comprehensive Analysis of IP in Sports Business

A Comprehensive Analysis of IP in Sports Business
Karan Singh
| Updated: Oct 07, 2021 | Category: Intellectual Property

IP in sports business exists in a variety of ways, from sports accessories, merchandising to acquiring & licensing sponsorships for sports events. The IPR (Intellectual Property Rights) define the method of its acquisition, the nature of the rights discussed, the commercial utilisation of those rights, the enforcement of those rights and remedies against Infringement of those rights.

Sports Clubs are the best examples of Intellectual Property brand capitalisation. There are various sports teams like RCB (IPL), FC Barcelona (Football), etc. are some examples that have appears as big brands. Intellectual Property helps such brands in promotion, merchandising, licensing, marketing, and franchising that aids in the brand capitalisation and their products or services. Scroll down to check more information regarding IP in Sports Business.

Significance of IP in Sports Business

IP means creation or property by a proprietor by an owner using their intellect in the scientific, literary field, industrial, and artistic. Intellectual Property[1] is an intangible property, and it consists of exclusive rights in relation to certain material objects created by the original owner.

However, in the case of sports business, such Intellectual Property can be found in the technology aspect in the form of Patents & the aesthetic element in the form of logos, designs, name as a Trademark and broadcasting of live sports events as Copyright and related rights. Such rights excite the economic growth and development of the sports business and provide legal protection to the sponsors, sports personnel, and related parties.

All the transaction associated to merchandising, dealing sponsorship and broadcasting with media comes under the scope of Intellectual Property Rights. This business is one of the fastest-growing businesses and always stays in the limelight for any age group; thus, it helps in hobs creation, mobilising resources, and investments in public infrastructure.

What are the Different Types of IP in Sports Business?

Following are the types of IP in sports business:

Different Types of IP in Sports Business
  • Patents in Sports Business: The Patent helps the sports equipment manufacturer to commercialise their invention and grow the industry and economy at large, while R&D in sports aid in improving the already present technologies or equipment or tool and benefits the public by giving an extensive range of high-quality sporting goods. For example, Footwork Training System & Method is a method for estimating an activity, including an article of clothing with a sensor capable of identifying the impact of an article of clothing like on a surface, a shoe, etc.

The Patents are territorial, but one can look for International Patent Registration by applying under PCT or Patent Corporation Treaty that enables the inventors to file sole registration to obtain International Patents in various countries.

  • Trademarks in Sports Business: In this business, Trademarks safeguards the name, logos, domain names, taglines, taglines, and so on. For example, the logo of ICC, IPL teams such as KKR, Chennai Super Kings are safeguarded as Trademarks, and any individual using such Trademarks on the merchandise such as bags, jerseys, etc., would be accountable for Trademark Infringement. Trademark also protects the works & poses of athletes, and brand shoes are also some famous examples of registered Trademarks. Although these are not exclusive rights over those words & poses, these Trademarks prevent the illegal use of products without the approval of the celebrities.

So, Trademark Registration gives a wide range of protection than an unregistered mark. A brand or logo can also obtain International Trademark Registration on their Trademarks or brand by registering it with the International Trademark Registration System that requires filing one application in more than 124 nations to safeguard the registered Trademarks in the member states, and any illegal Trademarks exploitation would lead to Infringement.

  • Trade Secrets in Sports Industry: Trade secrets could be a practice, process, method of doing business, or any type of information that the owner believes that the release of which would be harmful to the owner but could be beneficial to the opponents or others. In India, there is no separate or individual statute that regulates Trade Secrets; these could be safeguarded by signing or having a proper NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement) or a confidentiality clause on the primary agreement between the sportsperson and the business corporation, associations/organisers, sponsors for events.
  • Copyright in Sports Business: In sports, among all the IP in sports business, Copyright exists in the majority of sports events or articles. Be it the artistic work or content of the logo as artistic work/sports articles or events which could be safeguarded as the literary work or theme song as sponsorship agreements, sound recording, and so on. Therefore, it is vital to safeguard the Copyright. However, Copyright Registration is not compulsory as it comes into existence when the work is actually copyrighted.
  • Designs in Sports: In the sports business, world designs are evolving with new material that has an aesthetic appeal. Designs comprise sports bags, sports shoes, etc. Sports footwear, socks, clothing, stockings comprising special boots for sports like skiing, football, etc. Scarves, medals, sports apparatus, handbags, and equipment vital for the practice of different sports and generally have no other purpose like footballs, tennis rackets, and skies are some examples that can be registered as Designs under the Locarno Classification.
  • Broadcasting Rights: These rights are the rights to stream audio or video through any electronic media. Such rights are transferred by virtue of the licensing agreement between the broadcaster & the producers or event organisers of sports events. They permit the distribution of copyrighted content through various electronic media such as live telecasts of any sports, highlights etc. The broadcasters pay hefty amounts to get exclusivity over such Copyright & related rights; in return, Copyright safeguards the broadcasters against illegal retransmission.

WIPO Role in Sports Business

The WIPO or World Intellectual Property Organisation conducts seminars, events & presentations in the case of sports so that the member states can attain maximum advantages in safeguarding and commercialising their Intellectual Property Rights globally. It helps the public organisations and Government to integrate Intellectual Property & sports into their national development plans.


After discussing the role of IP in sports business, it is concluded that IP plays an essential role in spreading awareness, safeguarding inventions and other Intellectual Property Rights to the inventors & the owners. It is further concluded that IP in sports business promotes creativity & innovation of the management and the sports personalities. It also gives social moral, cultural development and boots the sportsman spirit among the fans & creates a healthy competition among the brands to innovate & grow with new technologies.

Read our article:All You Need to Know About IPR Protection in Cinema

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Karan Singh

A legal writing enthusiast, a wanderer, and a zealous reader. After gaining a lot of knowledge about the diverse legal topics and developing research skills, Karan joined the league of legal content writers to deliver quality-rich blogs.

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