Trade Marks Can be Your Special One

Although the ink has now dried on Mourinho’s new contract with Manchester United, it would appear image rights are still awaiting full resolution,  as Chelsea continues to sell José Mourinho merchandise in its store. Despite sacking José Mourinho back in December, Chelsea has been reportedly set to earn a six to seven figure sum based on the rights it registered in his name and image in 2005. Negotiations originally held up Mourinho’s new contract being finalised, in order for Manchester United to claim these rights – and sell its own mugs, umbrellas and t-shirts featuring its new manager.

Chelsea originally registered Mourhino’s image, name and autograph as a European (or Community) trademark in 2005. Securing all of these intellectual property rights would allow United to begin reaping the considerable profit that can be made from an individual as marketable and relevant as “The Special One”.

Although this dispute could not fully prevent United from finalising a contract with Mourinho, Chelsea potentially still owns a powerful position in holding something United wants and needs for greater marketability and commercialisation. With its ownership of these registered intellectual property rights, Chelsea could decide to effectively “licence” the rights to use Mourinho’s image to United, or as the current case may be, hold out for a considerable figure as a “transfer fee” should United wish to take a full assignment … Should United proceed to use Mourinho’s name in any commercial capacity, they are at risk of legal action from their long-standing rival club through breach of registered trade mark rights.

There is a clear example here of the power that can be held in registering a trade mark, and claiming any intellectual property.  Registered rights are much easier to enforce and could be used as an invaluable tool for the needs of your business, securing your professional image and preventing your competitors from taking advantage of your rights.

For advice and assistance on identifying, protecting and exploiting the intellectual property in your business contact John Pickervance, Associate Solicitor within the Corporate and Restructuring department by email or phone 0800 321 3258.  Alternatively, send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.

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