WIPO World Intelectual Property Day celebrates sport!
By Prof Dr Ian Blackshaw For the past 19 years, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), a UN specialised agency based in Geneva, Switzerland, has celebrated World Intellectual Property Day and the role that Intellectual Property (IP) plays in encouraging innovation and creativity around the world, featuring a different aspect of this important subject each year. This year, on 26 April 2019, the theme chosen is IP and Sport under the general title of ‘Intellectual Property Powers Sports’. In a feature - ‘Reach for Gold’ - the ways in which IP rights encourage and support the development of sport for fans around the world is explored. As the Director General of WIPO, Dr Francis Gurry, points out: “Sports are not necessarily something that you would immediately associate with intellectual property. However, if we deconstruct sport, we see that sport is essentially about the spectacle….. which itself has been transformed in many ways by technology.” This is particularly true of advances in technology for the broadcasting of sports events on a variety of media and platforms, especially the Internet. And goes on to remark: “Intellectual property rights underlie and empower the financial model of all sporting events worldwide. IP rights lie at the heart of the global sports ecosystem and all the commercial relationships that make sports happen and that allow us to tune in to sporting action whenever, wherever, and however we want.” In fact, without the legal protection of IP rights and their commercialisation, many major sporting events, such as the Olympics and the FIFA World Cup, would not be financially possible. On the importance of IP rights and sport generally, see Chapter 3 of the Book ‘Sports Marketing Agreements: Legal, Fiscal and Practical Aspects’ by Ian S Blackshaw, TMC Asser Press, The Hague, The Netherlands. Amongst the contributors to the WIPO World Intellectual Property Day feature on sport is the author of this post, who writes on ‘Understanding Sports Image Rights’. See ‘www.wipo.int/ip-outreach/en/ipday/…/understanding_sports_image_rights_html’. Amongst a number of issues that he deals with in his article is the vexed question of valuing sports image rights for tax and other purposes. In this connection, see also ‘www.sportsimagerightsexpert.com’. Prof Dr Ian Blackshaw may be contacted by e-mail at ‘