IPR and sports in India


IPR and sports in India


Recently, at the Asian Games, we saw that our athletes had won great admiration from citizens in our country because of their extraordinary performances. This accomplishment was achieved because of the improvement in the sports infrastructure and the shifting mindset of parents and children toward participating in sports from a very young age. Most of this change has happened in the last two decades. People in India give equal importance to sports with respect to studies. All of these above actions have given rise to prominent young athletes, and most essentially, the commercialization of sports has led to a large amount of investment from reputed global sports brands in India and sponsorships for athletes. And due to this, Indian start-ups are also taking part in this increasing competition. This is the current situation of the sports industry in India. Now we will see what the relationship is and what advancements IPR will add to this industry.

According to the WIPO “a patent is an exclusive right granted for an invention, which is a product or a process that provides, in general, a new way of doing something or offers a new technical solution to the problem”. Invention is not a mere discovery of the object or process; it should advance in the technical and economical aspects of the prior art before this invention can be considered a patent. Following are some global examples of patents in sports: In 1929, George Pierce was awarded the first patent (US1718305) for basketball. In 1996, a technology to make hockey pucks more visible to television viewers (US5564698) through the installation of an electromagnetic transmitter was patented. Besides that, there are more notable Indian patents that we must take into consideration, which are: in 2020, a rechargeable cryotherapy instrument for treating sports injuries (399226); in 2015, sports footwear (324730); in 2011, a lighting system for sports stadiums and outdoor arenas (339080); in 2019: a double-handed cricket bat (361180); and in 2011: a cricket ball launching machine (366405). These patents show the technological advancement in the Indian sport industry and the role of IPR in the sport industry in India.

Trademarks and copyrights also play a unique role in this industry; they are logos, slogans, team names, tag lines, etc. They create connectivity with the people and increase fan following, increasing the popularity of the teams. Even the names of the players have acquired the status of trademarks. And all these things contribute to the profit of the brands and enhance their brand image. Nike, a well-known sports brand, had a 5-year massive deal worth 370 crore with BCCI, which lasted between 2016 and 2020, which gave Nike’s iconic swoosh to Indian jerseys. Such deals help these popular brands increase their presence in particular sports and earn revenues from them, and trademarks are an essential part of this aspect. Japanese brand Asics sponsors Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, Ravindra Jadeja, and tennis player Yuki Bhambri, increasing their presence in India. Yonex sponsors Saina Nehwal, Chirag Shetty, and SwstikSairaj Rankireddy, which has increased their influence in the Indian badminton industry. The main aim of these brand sponsorships is to use their brand trademark on players’ accessories and equipment and generate revenue from it, and most companies are succeeding in that. Because of this, trademarks and copyrights play an important role in the sports industry.

In this competition, there are some Indian companies and start-ups that we should see: Cosco Sports, Nivia, TYKA, SS, Vector X, and Performax. These brands are increasing their technical advancements and gaining popularity with their trademarks and slogans. But during this, the term ambush marketing is used for the market strategy wherein companies try a free ride over the privileges obtained by the company that is the official sponsor of the particular sport event. The ambusher promotes its accessories by connecting them to teams and athletes. This has become a main concern in this industry. And currently in India, it has become hard to protect the trademarks and copyrights of these companies because certain local vendors are selling items in the name of these companies and making minor changes to the name or symbol of the brand, such as poma for puma, abibas for adidas, etc. This type of infringement is becoming harder to control, which is decreasing the profit of these brands and, moreover, decreasing the reputation and goodwill of sports brands.

The main conclusion of this is that as the sport industry is booming from a global perspective, the patent, trademark, and copyright laws must be more regulative so that the local vendors do not infringe on these brands. But from an Indian perspective, more and more start-ups and companies should invest in their research and development and compete more with these global brands with the help of patents and trademarks. As the price of certain accessories and equipment is too high for Indian consumers, these global brands have a pure monopoly in certain sports, and they also gained this monopoly only with the help of intellectual property rights. So based on this, it is important to recognize the necessity of various intellectual property rights and how they can be protected. And intellectual property rights are the main ingredient of any commercial activity, so to save the business in the sports industry, it is important to save the intellectual property rights of that company.






5. https://www.lens.org/

Author:- Omkar Digraskar, ILS Law College



1. What is the role of IPR in sports?

Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) in sports play a vital role in protecting various aspects of the sports industry, including trademarks, copyrights, and patents. They are essential for safeguarding team logos, merchandise, broadcasting rights, and innovations in sports equipment. IPR helps maintain the integrity and financial sustainability of the sports industry by preventing unauthorized use of intellectual property and promoting innovation and investment.

2. What is the law related to sports in India?

Sports law in India is a combination of various laws, regulations, and policies. Key aspects include:

National Sports Code: Sets guidelines for sports organizations’ governance and conduct.

BCCI and IOA: Independent bodies governing cricket and the Olympic movement, respectively.

Sports Contracts: Legal agreements between athletes, clubs, and sponsors.

Doping Control: Compliance with World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) regulations.

Broadcasting Rights: Deals with TV and media broadcasting of sporting events.

Intellectual Property: Protects sports trademarks, logos, and copyrights.

Betting and Gambling: Regulated to prevent match-fixing and corruption.


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