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Ten Top Tips to Enhancing IP in a Sports Sponsorship Deal

AUTHOR(S): Deirdre Kilroy
PRACTICE AREA GROUP: Intellectual Property, Technology and Innovation
DATE: 26.04.2019

Whether partnering with a sports star, a sports team or a sports organisation, at the heart of every sports sponsorship agreement is a brand alliance. Parties leverage existing intellectual property, and create valuable assets to gain commercial rewards. 

Deirdre Kilroy, head of Intellectual Property and a member of our Technology and Innovation Group sets out some top tips to consider when crafting your sport sponsorship deal:

  • Exclusive rights are often a fundamental pillar at the core of the sponsorship opportunity. Take care to describe exclusivity very comprehensively.
  • Just because you secure a team sponsorship deal does not automatically give you rights to use individual sport stars images or branding. Conduct IP due diligence around all campaigns.
  • When sponsoring a sports star or other sports entity consider all the intellectual property rights which may have at their disposal. Their intellectual property rights may not be their name and image alone.
  • Some individual endorsement, influencer or ambassador deals may amount to ambush marketing in terms of existing commitments, take care to understand existing obligations to teams or sporting organisations.
  • In multi-tiered sponsorships it is important to understand the overall sponsorship model. Your brand will be associated by your audience with others in the sponsorship opportunity.
  • Often media rights to refuse broadcasts are dealt with separately in exclusive arrangements and so broadcast rights may need to be secured independently from the media rights owner.
  • Merchandising rights involve trademark licences, leveraging the selling powers of the sports brands. Ensure that nay trademark licence relates to trademarks that are registered in respect of your goods and services.
  • The ability to display branding at various sports events needs to be investigated. It is not always the case that a sports team or organisation will have full power to deliver location based branding at all events.
  • Whether the sponsorship deal ends by expiry or because of a crisis consider carefully how a termination can impact on your valuable IP rights. Specify each party’s obligations on termination, and consider what should happen on the various types of termination events.
  • Recognise who owns and who must protect the valuable IP created in the life time of the sponsorship. Often new content, branding, databases of information and slogans are developed during a sponsorship, enhancing the brand value of the parties participating in the sponsorship.

 

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