India: IP On The Field

Last Updated: 9 February 2016
Article by Aakriti Thakur and Shilpi Saurav Sharan

Gone are the days when sporting events and sports were viewed as a mere source of entertainment. Today the play grounds are flooded with brand names, sponsor names, trademarks and logos which garner brand valuation and reputation of enterprises. Hence, today sporting event or sports are intrinsically bound with Intellectual Property (IP) rights and protection.

One of the earliest instances when Intellectual Property was brought on the field was when Rudolf Lettner patented "steel edge ski" in 1926 and today there are various sports equipment and moves which enjoy the imprimatur of national and international IP Offices. For example Usain Bolt's "Lightning Bolt" and his slogan "to di world" and Michael Jordan's "Jumpan pose" are registered trademarks i.e. unauthorised use of the said marks or slogans could tantamount to trademark infringement.

In the present times, sporting events like FIFA, Olympics, World Cup or IPL have become a hub of IP commercialization and valuation.


Whether it is brand name, team name, team logo, slogans, taglines or catchphrases Brand value of various IPL franchises in the years 2014 and 2015 are as under: trademarks are all over the field. Such names and symbols render an authentic source of identification and enable association with a team or club. In India, the Indian Premiere League (IPL) teams have several registrations and applications for their team names, logos and taglines in respect of several goods like clothing, sportswear, footwear etc.

A trademark search reveals that more than 650 trademark applications have been filed by Kolkata Knight Riders whereas approximately 6 and 113 trademark applications have been filed by Chennai Super Kings (India Cements Ltd.) and Mumbai Indians (Indiawin Sports Pvt. Ltd.) respectively.


With the dawn of the Indian Premiere League (IPL), sports events in India has gained positive momentous and brands, logos, trademarks and monetization of IP play an elementary role on field.The assessment of IP asset held by the teams also help in assessing of their brand value.

The American Appraisal which conducts valuation and renders valuation related advisory services reports that the IPL brand value is derived from wider variety of reasons keeping in mind the Indian viewers and they are:

  • Management strength and on-field Performance
  • Marketing Strategy
  • Celebrity Influence and Marquee Players
  • Geographical location

The report states that while assessing brand value several methods and techniques are deployed of which the most popular is the Relief Royalty Method. The Relief from Royalty Method, is premised on the royalty that a company would have to pay for the use of brand/ trademark if they had to license it.


Commercialization and licensing of brands has become one of the most revenue- generated trend among sports teams. Sports teams come up with various merchandise such as caps, shoes, t-shirts, sports equipment which are very popular among masses. T-shirts of players are covered with logos of various brands. Such teams engage in merchandising activities by licensing their works to a third party. For licensing,

agreements are entered into by the parties with various clauses stipulating terms and conditions.


Another IP issue of remarkable concern during sporting events, particularly FIFA World Cup is "Ambush Marketing". It primarily refers to a technique of marketing which aims at securing advantage of the huge interest and high profile of an event by creating a commercial association or seeking promotional exposure without the authorisation of the event organiser.

Ambush marketing has been noticed on several occasions during the FIFA World Cup event and has been a subject of profound concern in the recent times. On account of global appeal coupled with proliferation of sources of viewing the event, FIFA attracts lots of ambushers which gives them an opportunity to associate their products with a major event, thereby misleading consumers. During 2010 FIFA World Cup Match in South Africa, Bravarian Brewery of Netherlands which was not an official sponsor, hired thirty six women to attend the match wearing unbranded orange skirts which endorsed Bavarian Brewery. Later on the women were removed from the stadium and two were arrested on charges of unlawful commercial activities. On account of the said publicity stunt, Bravaria was accused of ambushing Budweiser which was the official sponsor of the event and were also accused of violating the Contravention of Merchandise Marks Act, a law passed in South Africa for the World Cup event.

It was also reported that during 2010 FIFA, in which Adidas was the official sponsor, Nike had put out a lengthy online viral video of its own featuring many of the players, thereby ambushing Adidas.


It can be said that IP is the new player on field and sports teams and clubs are ardently creating rights and aggressively protecting them from infringement. IP commercialization has become one of the most sought after sources of revenue generation by sports teams.

There is no denying of the fact that IP asset plays an immense role in evaluation of brand of any entity and IP licensing or commercialization further augments its value. 

Previously published in Lex Witness - June 2015

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Singh & Associates
In association with
Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Singh & Associates
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions