Several stories which have hit the headlines recently demonstrate the value of registered trademarks in protecting sporting brands.

The Ashes

Firstly, The English Cricket Board (ECB) and Marlebone Cricket Club (MCC) have issued warnings to ambush marketers and producers of unauthorised merchandise ahead of the Ashes that they will take action to enforce their trademarks.

The EBC and MCC hold trademarks in respect of the words the "Ashes" and MCC holds a registered trad mark for the Ashes Urn. New marks have also been registered to protect the 2013 Ashes series.

It is worth noting that, unlike events such as the Olympics, the Ashes enjoys no special statutory regime of protection and that the strategy of registering trademarks is open to any sports club or other organisation which wants to protect its rights in an event or other brand.

Sporting celebrations

It also emerged recently that winger Gareth Bale has applied to trademark a logo based on his heart-shaped goal celebration. Filing the trademark is likely to be part of a plan to develop a range of official merchandising based around the logo and to prevent third parties from producing unofficial goods of the types included within the application (which include items of clothing, footwear, headgear and jewellery).

In case you were wondering, we can confirm that Mo Farah is also currently seeking to trademark his "Mobot" celebration!

Trademark applications such as these illustrate the flexibility of the trademark system, which can be used to protect not just brand names and logos, but also things such as colours, "jingles", aspects of packaging, or the names of famous sportspeople.