Fun facts about Sports and IP

By Ana Cisneros | 19-Jan-2023

“Is there intellectual property associated with sports?”, you may ask. Well, YES! And also, some very interesting cases around the subject. Check our blog and try to spot which of our thoroughly investigated stories is not really that thorough nor was investigated.

The change of name of the NFL football team the REDSKINS

If you are a fan of football, you certainly know the REDSKINS, now known as WASHINGTON COMMANDERS. The change of name happened in 2020 (let's call it the “woke” era), since the term REDSKINS Has been defined as offensive and disparaging. For several years, the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), tried to have it changed since it is considered a racial slur. Native Americans even filed a claim to prevent the team from keeping its federal trademark registration alive, and the Washington Post said it would no longer use the brand to refer to the team since they too considered it a racial slur and an offensive term. Thus, the team was forced to change its name and as of 2020, they go by the name of the WASHINGTON COMMANDERS.

The Converse Chuck Taylor's and the Jordan Tennis Shoes

We all know the Converse and the Jordans tennis shoes, and we also know they are “named” after someone. Jordans are an easy guess, because Michael Jordan is a very famous basketball player, but what about Chuck Taylor? Charles “Chuck” Taylor, was a basketball player who in 1921, joined the Converse company as a promoter and seller of the brand, helping them adjust and improve the tennis shoes, making them more comfortable and sturdier, and finally, adding the very distinctive star to the models, which are now known as Chuck Taylor All Stars.

Athletes who lost their sponsorship due to ill behavior
There are stories of amazing collaborations between athletes and brands, and then…there are ones that would rather be forgotten. Here, some examples of a “heavenly union” turning bad:
  • Lance Armstrong, who won the Tour de France 7 times and was an example of resilience, was dropped by Nike when it was discovered that he used doping substances to put up with his cancer but also to improve his skills.
  • It seems Nike has a type. Oscar Pistorious was a Paralympic athlete who inspired many with his amazing velocity despite being a double amputee. Again, Nike dropped their deal when he murdered his girlfriend. Dark times.
  • Michael Phelps was another hero who won 8 medals during the Olympic Games in Japan, but was caught smoking pot, and, although at the time he was not competing, Kellogg´s, his sponsor, thought he was not a good influence for its market.
  • Tiger Woods: Loved by many and admired by all, lost his sponsorship with Golf Digest, Accenture, AT&T and Gatorade, because he had another kind of addiction…a sex addiction, that caused the brands cited to drop him in the act.
There are new players in town. Mexican trademarks take over the tennis shoe market in Europe

Though Mexico is not essentially known for its sporting gear, recently, the European Union has succumbed to the beautiful designs and alternative textiles of shoes made in Mexico. On an economics report issued last November 2022, brands like Charly and Sporelli (both of Mexican origin), rated higher than the old-time favorites Adidas and Nike. Maybe people will finally start exercising with products of Mexican origin instead of only drinking them.

Fake! Sadly, people are more interested in Mexican products that you can eat and drink than those you can wear. Let’s hope we take the international markets with all kind of products soon!

The Thom Brown vs Adidas case finally came to an end.

After 5 years of legal battle over the famous stripes, the legal affair between Adidas and Thom Brown, was ruled in favor of the latter. The Jury of Manhattan determined that “Adidas AG had failed to show luxury brand Thom Browne Inc's use of stripes on its clothing infringed the sportswear giant's signature three-stripe trademark”.

Though the dispute has been going on for more than a decade, it was only 5 years ago when ADIDAS took legal actions against Thom Brown, who had previously changed the design to four stripes to avoid confusion with the sports giant.

The (veiled) use of Piqué´s name in latest Shakira song.

If you live under a rock or have no Instagram, TikTok or similar sorts, you might have missed the news about Shakira, a Colombian artist who, up until recently, was married to Gerard Piqué, star of the Barcelona football team.

In her latest song, (as, in every song after her separation and eventual divorce), she implies that she´s too good for her ex, and that now instead of crying, she´s “invoicing”. Good for her.

Though, in her latest song, she does refer to her ex in an almost direct way, and used the name of her ex, Pique, in a line of her song. Although the use has been diluted through a wordplay (salpiqué, in Spanish, means to splash someone with something liquid), it could be taken as a “defamatory way” of referring to the football star, and he could have actions against the Colombian star. Though, if she will continue “invoicing” instead of crying, it might be a good idea to not mess with the singer.

Ana Cisneros
IP Attorney |
Litigation, Copyright
Ana is part of Iberbrand®’s professional team. Intellectual property has always been her passion. She is in charge of Iberbrand®´s “5+1 Fun Facts” editorial section.
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