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Top of the league: How football clubs protect and exploit their brands in a global marketplace

Football players on field running after the ball
By Rebecca O'Kelly-Gillard, Chris Lavey
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The 2017/18 Premier League season kicks off today and the revenues of the league and its football clubs continue to go from strength to strength.  Increased broadcasting revenues have already lead to record transfer fees; many teams are spending the pre-season playing international tours in Asia and North America; and clubs have been busy negotiating and announcing a range of new commercial deals. The combined commercial revenues of the Premier League clubs exceeded £1 billion for the first time in 2015/16.[1]  But when it comes to sponsorship, merchandising and other licensing arrangements, how should a football club maximise the value of its brand? This article explores these questions, specifically looking at:

  • Building a brand in the global market place

  • Protecting the brand

  • Exploitating the brand - licensing

  • Monitoring and enforcing the brand

For more on brand protection in football, with a focus on trade marks, please also see this LawInSport article: The importance of trade marks in football - controlling brand value avoiding own goals.

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About the Author

Rebecca O'Kelly-Gillard

Rebecca O'Kelly-Gillard

Rebecca is a Senior Associate in our Intellectual Property Group based in London focusing on the media, entertainment and sports sector.

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Chris Lavey

Chris Lavey

Chris is a London-based trainee at Bird & Bird who is due to qualify into the Media, Entertainment & Sports group in September 2017.

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