Sporting Image Rights: Why Are They So Important?

Sporting image rights is now a global, multi-million pound industry. Therefore, control of these is all important. Here, we look at a couple of examples of different kinds of sporting image rights and the key provisions of each. 
Endorsement agreements
This is an agreement which is entered into between a company and an individual or sporting organisation whereby the company will pay the individual/ sporting organisation to endorse their products or services through the individual/ sporting organisations name and/or reputation. 
The particular kind of endorsement can take on several forms; the individual or sporting organisation may be required to wear a particular brand of sports kit, be seen to use certain products in public, or advertise or appear at certain company events. The agreement will normally allow the company to use the individual/ sporting organisations name, image and/or signature to promote their products.
The endorsement agreement contains several key clauses. These clauses need careful drafting to ensure that the rights and obligations of each party are clear and are protected. The most important clause is the "grant of right" clause. This will define the nature and scope of the endorsement. Other key terms include the duration of the agreement, the amount and type of remuneration involved (including the frequency and methods of payment), termination provisions should either party feel the need to break the agreement, the obligations of each side in the agreement, and other key terms regarding the intellectual property rights of the individual/sporting organisation. The clause regarding the territories that the agreement extends to will also be key, especially if the individual/sporting organisation is such that it has worldwide appeal, such as Manchester United or the New York Yankees. 
Sporting logo license agreements
This is an agreement whereby the licensor agrees to allow the licensee to produce and sell goods using the licensors image or logo.
As with endorsement agreements, there are several key provisions which, as stated above, need careful drafting to protect the parties to the agreement. As above, terms regarding the remuneration, territory and intellectual property rights will be key, as they are with any sporting agreement. In the case of sporting logo licensing agreements, exclusivity is also a key clause. This will state whether or not the licensee has an exclusive right to use the licensors image/logo, or whether the right is non-exclusive, i.e. meaning that the licensor can potentially also negotiate with competitors to arrange similar agreements. Clearly, the more exclusivity the better as far as the licensee is concerned and the licensee will expect to pay a significantly higher price for the right to exclusive use of the licensors image or logo. 
Finally, another key clause is that relating to quality control. Clearly, the licensor will wish to protect the reputation that they have built up and they will therefore wish to ensure that the licensee goods are of sufficient quality so as not to weaken their reputation in any way.
Fraser Brown are able to advise on the types of agreement set out above and any other kind of sporting image right contract. For more information, please contact Ewan Carr on 0115 9888 777 or via ecarr@fraserbrown.com

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