Tony Hawk, what’s in a name?

Written by Daniel Crate | April 3, 2023

Intellectual Property

I was never great at skateboarding, either in real life or on a PlayStation 1. But when you think of skateboarding the one name that springs to mind is Tony Hawk.

His name has enabled him to create a billion-dollar video game franchise. But in the early 90s he was offered $500,000 USD by a video games company who wanted to buy all of the rights to his name.

$500,000 would be a life changing amount of money to anyone.

But Tony Hawk declined the offer and retained ownership of his name. Instead of accepting a one-off lump sum, he decided to roll the dice and increase the value of his brand. Over time, he managed to license his brand out to others (video game companies, skateboarding manufacturers and clothing companies etc.). In return, he would receive royalties on every unit sold.

It turned out there were lots of people who wanted to buy skateboarding video games. The rest is history.

Selling verses licensing your brand name?

The above touches upon some pros and cons of choosing to retain ownership of your brand.

But if your brand name happens to be your actual name, you should take an extra pause and think about the practical ramifications of selling your rights.

For example, the Netflix biopic series “Halston”, starring Ewan McGregor highlights how you can become unstuck. Roy Halston, the famous fashion designer behind the iconic Halston dress would have celebrities wanting to wear his clothing on red carpets around the world during the ‘70s and ‘80s.

However, he needed a cash injection into his finances and in 1983 his company entered into a 6-year licensing deal which could have been worth up to a reported $1B USD with the US retail chain, JCPenney. The “Halston III” line aimed to make his high-end brand accessible to the man and woman on the high street. However, the move began to backfire as it meant his brand was no longer associated with the high-end fashion market and many boutiques stopped stocking his ranges.

As Halston’s high end brand continued to dilute, his company was acquired, and he began to lose the right to use his name. By 1984 he was banned from using his name at all as a brand or have any creative control over how his name was used by the buyers.

We understand business moves quickly and you need to make decisions based on a set of real-world factors at the time. We are always happy to discuss the risks and benefits of various options with our clients to help inform their wider decision-making process.

If you need help protecting or exploiting your brand, please feel free to get in touch with one of our specialist lawyers.

In the meantime, there is little risk of a Crate hitting the catwalks anytime soon.

Written by Daniel Crate – Solicitor

Related articles

Back to blog

Book a free consultation with one of our specialist solicitors.

We’ll start with a no obligation chat where we’ll get to know you and understand your current challenges.

Book your free consultation now

Looking for more information?

Explore our services Key industry sectors Briffa content hub