Branding in the back of the net
Over the years football celebrations have become more elaborate (Stjarnan FC’s “Catch of the Day” is just one example), with players having their own trade mark move. But what do we actually mean by the term “trade mark move”? For some, it is just a dance recreated when scoring a goal (que Peter Crouch’s Robot). For others, it is a business opportunity.
Jesse Lingard is a prime example of a goal celebration turned branding dream. In May 2018, JLINGZ LTD (Jesse Lingard’s company) filed four trade mark applications at the UK Intellectual Property Office for the following UK trade marks:
These low-key, non-descript marks were filed just in time for the Football World Cup, which, for those of you that might not remember, kicked off on 14 June 2018.
Why was Jesse Lingard smart to file applications for his UK trade marks before the start of the World Cup?
Because the World Cup is one of the most watched sporting events in the World. The England v Colombia game is said to have been viewed by 23.6 million people. So when scoring a goal against Colombia, Lingard was right to make the most of this international platform.
Lingard applied to register all of the UK trade marks in class 25 – covering clothing, footwear and headgear. This means that the simple 5 second goal celebration, which was watched by millions, is already protected in the UK for mass production on t-shirts, hats and shorts. And by looking at jlingz.com today, that has worked out rather well, with most of the clothing line currently sold out!
Why do we care so much about whether or not this goal celebration is a registered trade mark?
By Jesse Lingard registering this image as a trade mark he is able to prevent others taking ownership and taking advantage of the good will that is associated with it. The millions of people that watched the England game will now link that ‘JL’ symbol to Lingard, and they will buy products thinking that what they have purchased is linked to that celebration. To not take proper steps to protect it could have been catastrophic, leaving the door open to others to make a fortune instead of Lingard.
So this goal celebration may seem unprepared and a spur of the moment burst of creativity to the viewer at home, but it is an ingenious example of how trade marks can help build a professional sports star’s brand portfolio - turning little ideas into large profits.
We can see others rising up, such as Dele Alli and his signature challenges (the #DeleChallenge). These have stormed social media, with celebrities and fans all trying the #delechallenge. The link between these gestures and Dele Alli is so strong that we wouldn’t be surprised if you could buy a t-shirt with this on soon!
The Mills & Reeve sports team has extensive experience in managing brand registrations for professional athletes and sports organisations. If you would like to know more about brand registrations, please contact Emma Day.