I retired in April 2013 after 25 years as a librarian at the British Library specialising in inventions. This included running numerous workshops; writing books on inventions and a work blog; carrying out searches for clients; and one-to-one meetings with inventors. [more]


30 January 2014

Manchester City's intellectual property

The annual report of Manchester City football club states that in the year to 31 May 2013 they made £47 million from selling "intellectual property". Of this, £22.5 million was sales to related parties, and £24.5 million from selling to third parties, such as, perhaps, a rumoured New York franchise. No other details were disclosed.

These helped bring their losses down from £97.1 million to £51.6 million. Their revenue was £271 million, up from £231 million. The wage bill of £233 million helps account for the loss. And sounds huge to me ! There were also big losses in buying and selling players (that is, they were paying a lot more than they were receiving).

But what is the intellectual property of the club ? Some may be sponsorship and partnership deals with companies such as Nike and Etihad Airways, but much I guess is trade marks in the form of sportswear and other items where the club sells rights to use the club regalia in return for, probably, royalties, or perhaps for cash sums. Hence you can buy their shirts as made by clothing companies in sports wear shops and the like.

In 1972 Manchester City applied for the following, still current, trade mark.

This was for six classes. You don't just register for everything, but for specified goods or services in specified classes. The idea is to allow different owners to use say Swan for different activities, so long as they don't conflict. Nobody expects a maker of matches to rent cars as well. In this case, Class 6 with key rings and key chains turns up, as it nearly always does for sports clubs and bands, as they are cheap memorabilia.

In 1997 they applied for this modified version. Still the ship, but no rose. It has less detail which makes it easier to reproduce clearly on small items.

This time there were 9 classes, which include such items as teddy bears, romper suits and baby boots. If you think you might sell it, just put it in, as failure to do so could mean someone trying to sell it.

Also in 1997, there was a version using the club's Latin motto, superbia in proelio. It means "Pride in battle".

And there is a colour version as well. Judging from the Manchester City FC website this is the favoured, modern version.

MCFC, Man City and Manchester City F.C. have also been registered, among other variants. This is a complete list of the UK registered trade marks. The same eagle is Manchester's symbol as a city, it seems, as the City Council registered it for many uses in 2008 as EU 6804462 through the pan-European EU system, as shown below.

Such registrations only cover the UK, and big sports clubs are global in their ambitions nowadays, especially with syndicated broadcasts and the reach of the Internet. The same colour insignia shown above was only published for "opposition", prior to registration, in the USA on the 21 January 2014, having been filed for in 2012. Many foreign countries were designated in a filing for the same, also in 2012, through the Madrid Agreement, which is an international treaty.

Hence we have football, business and intellectual property all coming together.

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