Trademark Protection, Broadcast Rights Vital For Sports, Say Stakeholders 19/11/2008 by Kaitlin Mara for Intellectual Property Watch Leave a Comment Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)By Kaitlin Mara Intellectual property protection is key to the innovation and infrastructure surrounding athletic achievement, said speakers at a World Intellectual Property Organization training event for journalists last week. Trademark protection, copyright protection and other forms of IP rights ensure that the organisations that promote sport and its participants can continue their work, they argued. The WIPO seminar for journalists, held in Geneva from 10 to 13 November, brought in writers from developing countries around the world to hear speakers from the organisation explain the importance of IP. The course was aimed at those who seek to learn more about a topic they recognise is important but struggle to fully understand. WIPO runs such courses whenever it has the opportunity, said Samar Shamoon, head of the media relations and public affairs section at WIPO. Access to some portions of the event was given to Geneva journalists. This seminar was unique in that it brought in representatives from several sports alliances to speak on the way IP – and, in particular, piracy – impacts their work, and to discuss different methods of protecting their IP in a world where broadcast of sporting events reaches the largest number of viewers, and in which internet technology makes illicit copying of those broadcasts much easier. Oliver Weingarten, the in-house solicitor of England’s Premier League, said that IP infringement breaks the �virtuous circle’ in which income from the sale of media rights on sports events “is re-invested in playing talent, youth development, training and other facilities” and the improvement of stadiums. Video website YouTube is a particular problem, he said, as it is anonymous and international and localised in many may countries worldwide. Clips go up on YouTube from one time zone and can be watched in another before they have been legally streamed in that time zone. This, said Weingarten, “erodes and dilutes the rights of the Premier League’s licensees.” A question was raised about the case of poor countries where sport is often a matter of national pride, but where the price of cable broadcasting is beyond the reach of many individuals, but Weingarten explained that the Premier League does not set prices on access to each broadcaster’s content in their territories. Another question asked if the posting of seconds-long clips of favourite goals or game moments constituted real damage by fans to sports leagues or broadcasters. Weingarten presented a newly released study by Net Result, an internet monitoring and enforcement agency engaged in tracking and attempting to stop internet piracy, which claimed the finding that digital piracy is “one of the most important threats facing sports rights owners today,” and is one which sporting organisations feel is difficult to combat. The report provides studies by sport of internet piracy, and in particular of piracy via websites that stream games live and in real time. Trademark infringement is, by contrast, the chief concern of the International Olympic Committee, noted Marianne Chappuis, a legal officer at the IOC. The organisation’s omnipresent 5 rings, a select set of phrases, and the logos specifically designed to promote the Olympics in a particular city during a particular year must be protected not only to ensure revenue but also to ensure that they are used in the spirit of the “Olympic movement,” which is, for example, strictly apolitical and intended to contribute to a better world by “educating youth through sport.” Protecting rights of sponsors is also critical, Chappuis said. The Games receive more than 40 percent of marketing revenue from commercial sponsors, according to the IOC website. Chappuis added “protecting the business is protecting the Olympic movement as well” since it is supported by its sponsors, she said. Members of the Olympic Partner Programme are granted exclusive rights during a set of games within their product area; if other organisations can pass themselves off as associated with the games – such as through unauthorised use of Olympic trademarks – it would decrease the value of sponsorship, and thus the revenue available to the Olympic Movement in the future. In addition to unauthorised use of real trademarks, the IOC also has to worry about “ambush marketing” – when association with the Olympic Movement is implied without infringing upon an actual trademark. An oft-cited example is from the World Cup football games in 2006, when fans showed up to a match in Germany wearing orange lederhosen made by Dutch brewery Bavaria – creating problems in a game sponsored by rival Anheuser-Busch. Also speaking during the week were Jochen Schaefer, legal counsel for the World Federation of Sporting Goods Industries, who provided an industry perspective on trademarks and sport, and Jaimie Patterson, the chief executive officer of sports apparel company SKINS, who provided a case study on the role of IP in an emerging technology-based company entitled “Faster, Higher, Stronger.” Kaitlin Mara may be reached at email@example.com. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related "Trademark Protection, Broadcast Rights Vital For Sports, Say Stakeholders" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.