April 24, 2019

Reach for gold: Intellectual Property and Sport

This is the motto for World Intellectual Property Day 2019 (April 26) and sees sport as a benchmark for universal values such as excellence, respect and fair play.

Sport has become an industry that mobilizes huge number of fans and economic resources all over the world and along its value chain, but beyond the major global media events such as Olympic Games, a World Cup or an NBA Final Four, there is the entire sporting base that ends up becoming the cause and effect of the sporting phenomenon as such and where one would not be understood without the other. It is unthinkable to imagine the follow-up and complicity that many sport practices generate worldwide without the decisive impact of these great sporting milestones and their competitions. It is a two-way movement that has ultimately been favoured exponentially by the development of telecommunication media, with the different digital alternatives for the diffusion of contents of the new millennium. If there is one fact that is undoubtedly universal in scope right now, it is sports.

Intellectual Property rights play a decisive role in the protection and safeguarding of a good part of the economic transactions generated around sport. The trademarks of the different manufacturers, the sports clubs, the designs of the competitions, sportsmen image rights or the innumerable technological developments of the sector are some examples of intangible assets that generate value and provide the necessary resources to organize great sports events, which in turn also involve significant investments in other areas of society and the economy. This value is not limited to the scope of the holder of the right concerned but also to third parties who, in one way or another, end up carrying out acts of exploitation of the intangibles mentioned above. It would be the case of the sponsors of events, broadcasting entities or the licensees who exploit IP rights in products or services related to the competition itself; the most paradigmatic case would be that of merchandising. It must be borne in mind that high-level sport alone represents a very important source of innovation given that it is a very intense technology market. Proof of this is that the main indicators compared show an increase of more than 100% in the number of patents in the sports field during the decade 2007 to 2017.

The World Intellectual Property Organization wanted to put sport and innovation hand in hand for this year’s campaign on the basis of a common trait in both areas: the constant spirit of self-improvement, an essential universal value on which the continuous will to improve our society is based. Effort without recognition loses a good part of its meaning and it is precisely on this point where intangible assets reinforce this creation of value that derives from the entire cycle of sporting activity.