Sports and Intellectual Property Issues

The Author is Harshita Joshi pursuing B.B.A LL.B(Hons.) from Jagran Lakecity University, Bhopal.

Earlier people play games as a recreational activity. Games are played at a community level for entertainment and therefore due to less development of games in the professional field, the question of right did not arise. But with the advent of time, theses games have changed into sports and hence there is a need to question the rights including the ‘Intellectual Property Rights’.

Intellectual Property Rights aimed at protecting genuine business assets. The main aim of Intellectual Property Right is the protection of ideas accomplished by a humans. For any new invention of idea, be it the company name, or any new sporting technique or piece of equipment. An idea is created by a lot of effort hence the need of protection arises. For example nowadays Radar Gun is used to calculate the speed of bowl, it uses transmitter and receiver, this technique was discovered by a person named ‘John Baker’ so due to commercialization of the sports worldwide, the role of Intellectual Property Rights come into play, and hence any new invention in terms of technique or equipments need to be protected. World Intellectual Property Organization(WIPO), a Geneva based specialized agency of the United Nations promotes the effective IPR system. This agency apart from protecting these rights work for the benefit of the sports industry.
                                               Intellectual Property Rights are very crucial for those who are involved in sports for their livelihood. Proving person with such rights help him to increase his earning and his market. IP rights are vested in almost every component of the sports industry. IPR start from patent which promote better technological advancement and it helps in better sporting equipments. It also include trademarks and designs which help the team members in distinct gears and events organized by sporting industry. Where it also includes the right of the broadcasters, who broadcast any sports events for the fans all over the world.

For example, trademark distinguish the shoe from similar products and protect reputation and brand of the shoe and patent use to protect the technology use to manufacture the shoe wore by the sportsperson. And copyright in this is use to protect network use to publicize the shoe. Whereas IPR also include various aspects such as event promotions, merchandising etc.
The commercialization of sports, it has contributed greatly to the economic growth of the country. Today Intellectual Property Rights are used as marketing tools towards the branding of events, new techniques which in turn require protection to prevent any complications in the future in case of any dispute. In spite of these advantages, these are bundle of huge problems as well due to which there is a need to discuss IPR issues and sports nowadays. Due to various acts of infringements and unauthorized use of IP, the dispute arises.

                                    In sports industry, various agreements one of which include a chain of title has a relevance which include the legal release of the talent of the sportsman, so that their work, images etc. need to be protected. This can be infer with the emergence of Indian Premier League where teams are forms and are owned by individuals, among which most of them are the celebrities. And in these they are sold to other individuals and during which chain of title become a crucial issue.

The basic problem arises with the incensement of the unauthorized use of the Intellectual Property. With the commercialization of sports industry , various legal issues arises which include-

Infringement of Trademarks
Brand Abuse, Misbranding, Misuse in bath faith
Using the name of the sports personality(especially in leagues like IPL) without permission or without paying any license
Piracy in audiovisual recordings
Copyright infringement with respect to copyright merchandise and design
Sports equipments, artwork logo
Use of design for promotion of other goods
Use of patented technology without authorization from the owner of the patent

These issues can lead to various unfair trade practices, unfair competition, commercial disputes which in turn lead to huge loses.
To conclude this, commercialization of sports is so rampant that the competition amongst various sports clubs is not only on the event field but also in view of making huge market profits. Most sports clubs have exploited intellectual property and are into different business such as merchandising , computer games etc. due to this earning profits by these sports club it is essential for them to protect their IP Rights. 

The protection of these rights would be informs like registrations, agreements with proper terms and conditions. It can be said that IP is the new player on the field and sports team are ardently creating rights. As sports industry have fully turned into business therefore, it will be difficult to apply normal business rule on these transactions therefore, IPR come into role . intellectual property is both key input and a byproduct of successful innovation, which contributes in the growth of the economy therefore, IP is a valuable asset and hence, granted substantial legal protection. In United States certain basic principles immerged that define the scope of IPR , enforcement and its licensing. For example:- Anti Trust Laws which permit a patient owner to use litigation to enforce there statutory right.

Even though India has ratified the WIPO Treaty on Performers Rights there still exists some confusion as to what all performers Right do come under the ambit of section 38 of the Copyright Act. The IP protects and hence helps in brand development and also in development of new technologies which can only be protected at the core of IP.

It is recommended that India should come up with proper sports business model through which an effective IP rights strategy could be addressed the use of patents, trademarks, designs in sports as well as domain names, which could address media and broadcasting rights. Therefore in order to maintain balance of IPR with public interest free access to various big sporting events should be broadcasted freely to citizens of the country. It is also recommended to adopt various alternative dispute resolution techniques to solve these sporting disputes. India needs to enact a Law to protect the confidentiality of sports industry. In spite of these hindrances the government of India must try to pass the National Sports Ethics Commission Bill, 2016 which promises to improve the integrity of sports in India. Therefore, protecting and enforcing IPR is an essential component in sports industry.