From darts to diving, all manner of sports may be protected by several IP rights:
Patents protect the technology used to develop the product or sport.
Designs protect the “look” of a product
Trademarks distinguish specific products or equipment from similar products and protects their “reputation” (and the company making it)
Copyright protects any artwork and audio-visual creations used to publicise the sport.
Here are five sports that are champions of IP
It has yet to become an Olympic sport, however darts has a surprisingly high number of hidden IP. If you are unfamiliar with darts, the game is fairly simple – each player has three darts in which they throw towards a marked cork board from a specific distance. A player starts with a score of 501 (or 301) and takes turns to throw their darts. The score for each turn is calculated and deducted from the player’s total, and the person who reaches zero first wins.
Winmau Dartboard Company have a granted patent for their improvement to the dartboard (GB2507762) and a pending application for improvements to darts (GB2533805) and dart flights (GB2531362).
The smell of freshly cut grass is a smell that is reminiscent of summer holidays in the sunshine. On 11 February 1999, a trade mark was filed for “The smell of fresh cut grass” for tennis balls. Although the registration has since lapsed, it was the first ‘smell mark’ that was allowed by the OHIM.
If you have ever watched or played a game of tennis, you might have been frustratingly close to winning (or losing) a match due to the ambiguity of the whether the ball was in or out. To help with addressing this issue, in November 2000 a patent application was filed for a video processor system for ball tracking in ball games.
With an estimation of 10 million people buying Adidas sports shoes in the UK, 8 million buying Nike, followed by around 1 million people buying other brands such as Reebok, Puma and Asics, it is fair to say that sport products are a booming market. The key identification of a brand can be its logo or symbol, as is evident from the Nike “tick” and Puma’s “leaping puma”. Trade mark protection of a logo, mark or symbol can be invaluable to a company’s brand and business, and can distinguish your product from others within the market.
As important as it is to protect your brand and mark, there is also a significant amount of inventive technology in sportswear. Asics are known for their highly cushioned GEL™ brand technology within their shoes. The GEL™ technology was launched in 1986 and has since developed in to many patent applications for gel and foam (FLYTEFOAM™) technology. https://www.wipo.int/wipo_magazine/en/2019/02/article_0003.html
Golf may not strike you as a sport full of new inventions and designs, but even in a simple glove, there are vast amounts of patentable technology, designs and trade marks. In the midst of searching, thousands of patent applications have been filed for golf gloves. Interestingly, there was a patent application for a “Golf Glove” filed at the United States Patent Office in December 1948 (US2456678). And it does not end there, patent applications are still filed today for golf gloves, with one being for a “single finger golf glove” (US2019091549).
There is unsurprisingly all sorts of IP protection in cycling, including trade marks, patented technology and registered designs. If we consider the 2018 Tour de France champion’s bike, the Pinarello Dogma F10, it has a number of IP rights including a registered Community design right. Registered design rights can protect the look or shape of a product, but will not protect the function of it. To protect how something works, you may want to seek patent protection.
Although a bike seems like a simple form of transport, it contains many hidden inventions. If we look back to the year 1899, a patent application was filed for “Gear for cycles” (US628135). The gearing system for bikes have developed quite a bit since then and can range with options of mechanical and electronic gear shifters.
Whether you are a sports company or any business looking to protected its intellectual property, do get in touch
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