Safeguarding Success: Vital Role of IPR in the Sports Law

Introduction

Sports and sports industry are booming all over the world. Asian countries, particularly India, with its many cultures and histories are also regarded as Unity in Diversity, and they are home to a large population of sports enthusiasts. Sports are becoming increasingly popular, both as a recreational activity and as an economic venture. The Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, which is led by a cabinet minister and governed by the National Sports Federations, is in charge of sports administration and funding. The Indian sports business has made its impact in the international sports industry.

Intellectual property law has a wide range of uses, including sports brands, athletic events, etc. Intellectual property rights (IPR) can be awarded in a variety of sports-related settings. Starting with copyrights, for which broadcasters have to pay substantial fees to distribute athletic events to spectators worldwide. The invention of sports devices will eventually arise from patents that foster innovation and technological growth. Trademarks protect a sporting brand’s reputation or goodwill.

As the sports business moves closer to commercialization, numerous intellectual property rights such as trademarks, copyrights, designs, and patents will undoubtedly be involved. The IPRs, together with legal protection, are critical to ensuring the economic and commercial value of sports.

Copyright in Sports

Any person’s original creative ideas are protected by copyright law. Anyone who has created something original in the fields of drama, music, literature, art, photography, and film is eligible to receive a copyright. The work is protected by copyright from the moment it is created. This grants the owner of the copyright the ability to duplicate the completed work, put it up for sale, create derivative works, modify it, grant permission, and assign it to another party if necessary. A sporting event’s numerous components, such as the artwork linked to the logos, trademarks, slogans, marketing, player or event photos, etc., are all protected by copyright in sports. Copyrights grant any broadcaster an autonomous and inalienable right over that specific sporting event, and they typically have to pay a significant sum of money to obtain that right. There is no justification whatsoever for people living in one or two regions of the world to have to pay to view content that the majority of people may access for free, especially when such regions have significant income gaps in their populations.

Sports organizations frequently rely mostly on broadcasting and media rights revenues to finance stadium construction, event hosting, and community engagement programs to sustain high levels of interest. The majority of nations have established the copyrightability of sports event broadcasting, either through particular laws or case law.

Espn Star Sports V. Global Broadcast News Ltd. and Ors, RFA (OS) 25/ 2008

The court noted that the context, the duration of the original work borrowed, and the purpose may never be disregarded when determining whether or not a given activity qualifies as “fair dealing.” The ad-interim injunction requested by the plaintiff cannot be granted. In cases where claims for broadcast reproduction rights are made, the Indian Copyright Act’s mandate under Section 61(1) is applicable; failure to disclose the copyright owner jeopardizes the suit’s ability to be maintained.

Trademark in Sports

The Trademarks Act, 1999 protects trademarks in sports in India. Examples of trademarks in sports include logos, captions, taglines, slogans, team names, and other features that are collectively referred to as trademarks and that hold commercial value because they establish a level of association with the public and fan following—a prerequisite for the creation of brand value in sports teams, clubs, sponsors, and athletes.

A unique sign or symbol that designates the source of goods or services is called a trademark or service mark. The Madrid System, an international trademark registration system developed by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), allows trademark proprietors to register their marks in up to 85 countries with a single application and to maintain and renew them using a single process. Trademarks can be used for as long as they are registered, and once they are, they are protected by being included on a national trademark registry. The public and fan base become more familiar with team names and symbols, such Deccan Chargers or Chennai Super Kings, and thus raises the popularity rankings of individual players, teams, and clubs. Athletes’ image rights are important because sports have grown to be a global industry.

[Image Sources: Shutterstock]

Sport Law

Patents in Sports

When a new invention or innovation is made, a patent is typically granted so that the creator may protect their work. A patent can give a product exclusive protection. In the area of sports law, patents may also be awarded for a variety of goods and processes. Patents can be of two types: design patents and utility patents. The functional aspect of any invention is protected by utility patents, whereas the ornamental aspect is protected by design patents.

Sports and training equipment are patentable. Items such as underwater wheelchairs, stopwatches, golf clubs, exercise equipment, swimming equipment, how to make a football, and so forth. The period of patent protection in India is 20 years. These days, sports technology is patented as well. For this reason, patent protection is crucial in the area of sports law.

Conclusion

Nowadays, sports are being heavily commercialized. The rivalry between clubs and teams has now extended off the field. A lot of teams and organizations are abusing their intellectual property to expand their reach to a worldwide audience and boost profits. Ensuring that intellectual property is properly protected aids teams and associations in securing financial benefits. Additionally, it grants them the authority to demand profit reports and injunctions against the violators. All athletic events, like the one mentioned above, must preserve these intellectual property rights. Therefore, a thorough legal contractual agreement must be formed to protect all types of intellectual property related to athletic events, athletes, etc. to elevate Indian sport and culture to the level of others throughout the world. The government must also actively support and encourage these developments.

Author: Kalash Jain, in case of any queries please contact/write back to us via email to chhavi@khuranaandkhurana.com or at  Khurana & Khurana, Advocates and IP Attorney.

References

  1. https://www.gapgyan.org/res/articles/(126-130)%20SPORTS%20AND%20COPY%20RIGHT%20LAW%20AN%20OVERVIEW%20ON%20THE%20INDIAN%20PERSPECTIVE.pdf
  2. https://www.ijcrt.org/papers/IJCRT2003361.pdf
  3. https://thelawbrigade.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Aswathy.pdf
  4. https://nopr.niscpr.res.in/bitstream/123456789/14768/1/JIPR%2017(5)%20437-442.pdf
  5. https://www.globalpatentfiling.com/blog/Role-Of-Intellectual-Property-In-Sports-Industry#:~:text=The%20involvement%20of%20various%20Intellectual,commercial%20value%20of%20the%20sports.
  6. https://legalserviceindia.com/legal/article-9001-study-of-intellectual-property-laws-in-sports-industry-specifically-focusing-on-copyright-and-trademark.html
  7. https://www.legalbites.in/sports-law/role-of-ipr-in-sports-938894

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