31st May 2016

​José - United with his own name?

If you’re some sort of celeb, there is a lot of value in your name – in some cases it can be used to sell clothes, perfumes; depending on the value of your celebrity.

In football management, notwithstanding the delicious disaster of Chelsea’s last season, there are few bigger, more self-regarding celebrities than José Mourinho; and yet his recruitment by Manchester United was held up by the fact that Chelsea owned the rights to his name, having registered a series of trade marks in 2005. That was after he replaced a guy called Claudio Ranieri – whatever happened to him? Even though our hero left Chelsea in 2007 after an ego clash with their owner, his trademark remained with Chelsea. That was all very well when the Special One rejoined to mighty Blues, and in 2013 Chelsea registered a further series of trademarks for crockery and video games. However when their football acquired the bonhomie of the bluesman Robert Johnson and JM became the Sacked One, there was a problem. The problem apparently cost £300,000 to resolve.

Trademarks, which are generally the means by which images and celebrities’ other rights are protected, are really valuable. They are not expensive to register, but they are very expensive to lose. The time to register rights, whether your own name of the business name you have developed, is as early as possible. The fees start at £170. The protection you can get is national, or for more investment, international. And just because you are using your own name, it doesn’t mean you have a right to use it in a business sense. Just try being called McDonald, and set up a burger restaurant. You could set a timer on the hours it takes before a cease and desist letter thuds into your inbox.

Paul Berwin


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