As we all know, professional players
have the potential to use their
images for commercial purposes and
to continue to generate an income
from them long a§er they have
given up playing. These images
need protection just as any other
valuable property does. Similarly,
clubs have valuable images that can
be protected or exploited financially
in much the same way.
The island of Guernsey recognised that
there was no official register of image rights
and introduced the world’s first register at
the end of 2012. One needs to join 3 dots to
understand the value of Guernsey Image Rights,
“Registration – Internet Infringement – London
Put simply, following registration on the
Guernsey Register, the rights will be infringed
by the inevitable third party use on the web
and orders of the Guernsey Court enforced in
Who can Register?
Any individual such as a player or manager
can register their personal image. It is also
possible for clubs to register their own images
in a similar way. Such an image could take the
form of team photographs (of historic as well
as current squads), mascots, badges, shirts,
etc., and other branding inextricably linked to
the clubs, even club songs.
It is also possible for a team to have a
registered image, with the image changing as
team members come and go.
To register an image will involve the services
of an officially approved Guernsey image rights
Registered images can include:
• A name or nicname
• A signature, lieness, appearance or any
other distinctive or personal a®ribute, for
example goal celebrations
• Club badges, strips and mascots
• A players onfield and ofield persona
Benefits of Registration
A player’s status may take years to become
ellestablished. oever, once it has been
established and even a¸er his retirement, there
remain tremendous commercial opportunities
by way of product endorsement through the
use of the player’s celebrity image well into
their old age and beyond.
Many clubs already have contracts for the
exploitation of their players’ image rights and
registration of an image gives legal certainty
as to who is the proprietor and who holds the
rights to control its use.
Because a registered image can survive
the death of the player there are advantages
in registration to protect the image right as
part of a succession plan and oer the players
estate a source of continuing income.
In certain circumstances the player may
choose to assign their image to a special
purpose vehicle in a tax neutral jurisdiction for
ta planning. For instance for nonU players
moving to a Premier League club there may
be potential advantages in having any pre
existing image rights held in a trust to ensure
that the income they generate remains, as far
as possible, U ta free. Lieise there could
be U ta advantages in a young player giing
his image to a trust whilst he was relatively
unknown. At that early stage in his career it
would a®ract no significant value thereby
avoiding any capital gains tax treatment upon
the disposal of that right to the trust.
Clubs can also register their own iconic
images as protection against their misuse on
unauthorised merchandise or websites. We all
know of the recent spate of false Facebook
sites which wrongly purport to be those of
the players when they are in fact operated
by unconnected and o¸en malevolent third
It is also not unusual for the immediate family
of a ellnon player to be targeted by the
press and their images may also be protected
Protecting an Image from Infringement
A player’s or club’s registered image
rights may be infringed by the unauthorised
commercial use of their registered image,
for example for illicit marketing or product
endorsement purposes. These will appear
unavoidably on the internet triggering
infringement of the Guernsey right.
Remedies for Infringement
Infringement entitles the player or club to
a legal remedy dependent on the particular
circumstances of the infringement.
One very interesting use of the register
is its potential to enable the taking down of
images from the internet once they no longer
remain part of current news. This could be
of tremendous interest to players who do
not want photographs of their past youthful
misdemeanours available on line indefinitely
and hich might eect any future sponsorship
Assuming that the image right of the person
has been infringed then the Guernsey Court
may order the removal of the infringing image,
an order enforceable in the United ingdom.
Not all unauthorised use of a registered
image can be considered an infringement for
example use of one in “current” news reporting,
commentary and satire is permissible, however,
stale news and internet coverage is not.
The Guernsey Image Rights Register
offers the unique ability to officially register
images in a politically stable and tax neutral
jurisdiction that has dra§ed specific
legislation for the purpose, and to protect
them from unauthorised use.
As the Guernsey Image Rights Register
has only been open since late 2012 its use by
professional footballers has yet to be fully
explored, although there are several other
sportsmen and women already registered.
Very clearly Guernsey has introduced a
world’s first for protecting the image rights
of players and clubs.
Sally Wilkinson is a registered Guernsey
image rights agent and managing director
of arbour Intellectual Property Ltd a
Guernsey company specialising in image rights
registration and protection. www.harbour.gg
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Protecting Players’ and
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