Innovation and creativity are key drivers in the world of sport. In every sporting field, inventors and creators are working behind the scenes to push the boundaries, creating new opportunities for athletes to better their performance and for broader enjoyment of sport.
Sport shows intellectual property (IP) in action. Patents encourage technological advances that result in better sporting equipment and other innovations. Trademarks, brands and designs contribute to the distinct identity of sports events, teams, players and their gear. Copyright-related rights generate the revenues needed for broadcasters to invest in the costly organizational and technical undertaking of broadcasting sports events to millions of fans all over the world. IP rights are the basis of licensing and merchandising agreements that earn revenues to support development of the sports industry.
A sports shoe may be protected by several IP rights
Patents -protect the technology used to develop the shoe
Trademarks distinguish the shoe from similar products and protect the “reputation” of the shoe (and the company making it)
Copyright protects any artwork and audiovisual creations used to publicize the shoe
IP and the business of sport
IP lies at the heart of the huge commercial opportunities offered by the world of sport. IP rights (especially patents, trademarks and broadcasting rights) - and the legal protection they give – help to secure the economic value of sport. This in turn stimulates growth of the sports industry, enables sporting organizations to finance high-profile sports events, and provides the means to promote sports development. Business transactions related to sponsorship, merchandising, broadcasting and media deals are all built on IP rights.
The sports industry has a growing impact on the world economy, creating jobs, investing in public infrastructure and mobilizing resources. The global revenue of the sports industry – comprising sponsorships, gate revenues, media rights fees and merchandising – is predicted to reach US$ 133 billion in 2013 from US$ 114 billion in 2009. The annual global turnover of sporting goods (equipment, apparel and footwear) is put at around US$ 300 billion.
From the sports shoe to the swimsuit and the tennis racket to the football, sports technologists have applied their ingenuity, creativity and expertise to develop better and safer equipment in the quest for sporting excellence.
Brands are critical for creating business value, and the sports business is no exception. Strong brands command customer loyalty and premium prices, constituting valuable assets that drive company revenue and growth.
The IP system, and trademarks in particular, play a pivotal role in safeguarding the unique character of the Olympic Games and their identifications, including the Olympic symbol, Olympic emblems, the flag, the torch and the anthem.
The economic importance of IP and sport, and their potential contribution to development have led to an increased focus on the issue among WIPO’s member states and throughout the wider United Nations family.