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Trademarks and image rights – Jose Mourinho

May 22, 2016, By

Jose Mourinho’s recent move to manage Manchester United FC hit a road bump when it came to the rights in his name and image.

Chelsea FC own the trade mark for Jose Mourinho’s name throughout the EU. As owner of the trade mark, Chelsea have the right to stop any other party using the name without their permission for certain classes of goods, including Jose himself. Check out the EUTM registration for a list of all the goods Chelsea FC have protected. Jose Mourinho fax machine anyone?

As well as the trade mark registration, there is also an issue with Jose’s image rights. Image rights generally means the use of someone’s image for commercial purposes.

Image rights –  include in commercial contracts

Image rights do not arise automatically in the UK but can be created with contracts, such as endorsement deals. In Jose’s case, his image rights will be restricted by sponsorship and endorsement contracts he already has in place with brands such as car manufacturer, Jaguar and watch makers, Hublot. These conflict with Manchester United’s sponsors Chevrolet and watch company Bulova.

The issue of using your own name as a marketable brand name has come up for several other people, such as fashion designer Karen Millen, who is currently fighting for the right to design and market clothes using her own name after she has stepped out of the Karen Millen fashion group. One clever lady, Donna Karen, made sure her namesake trade mark was held by a separate company and licensed to her fashion label so that when it came time to sell the label, she could terminate the trade mark licence and hold onto the rights in her name.

Licensing or assigning image rights

It seems quite a big oversight that Chelsea FC were given so many rights over Jose Mourinho’s name and he seemingly did not have the option to at least licence the rights to any future employers. It is likely that Chelsea FC have now granted a licence or assignment to Jose Mourinho or Manchester United for the rights to Jose’s name and likeness. The specific terms have not been reported but it is expected to have come with a hefty price tag.

For advice on how to best manage image and name rights for branding, trade mark and endorsement deals contact us.

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