As Rugby World Cup is coming up, we found it interesting to review some of the rugby tactics in terms of trademarks.
The Rugby World Cup Company (owned by the International Rugby Board – IRB) holds trademarks such as RUGBY COUPE DU MONDE, FRANCE 2007, COUPE DU MONDE DE RUGBY or WEBB ELLIS CUP. They fought for WEBB ELLIS CUP as a Community trademark in 2003 which faced two oppositions. The first one, based on the French trademark WEBB ELLIS held by a French natural person, succeeded in classes 32, 33, and 43. The second one, initiated by the English company Webb Ellis Limited, was settled by an amicable agreement
The IRB settled a strategy concerning the by-products and black market tickets by working tightly with PRICEMINISTER. COM in order to optimize the suppression of counterfeiting products.
Amongst the national clubs, the ALL BLACKS filed their name and logo as a trademark since at least 1989 in France and then in the European Union. Their trademark is now the object of a profitable license contract with Adidas for clothes, which cost 100 million euros to the German company for 9 years. They also reserved most of the corresponding domain names, such as allblacks. com, allblacks.net, allblacks.info or allblacks.us, even though only the first one is linked to their official website at the moment. Nevertheless, allblacks.fr has been reserved by the holder of French advertising company ALL
French team XV DE FRANCE is protected by French and European trademarks such as XV, XV DE FRANCE, XV FRANCE, Surprisingly these trademarks seem to coexist with posterior trademarks LA LEGENDE DU XV DE FRANCE (i.e. “XV de France’s legend”) or LA VITRINE DU XV DE FRANCE (i.e. “XV de France’s showcase”) owned by third parties. Moreover, the holders of the domain names xvdefrance.fr and xvdefrance.com have no relation with the French Rugby Federation.
Both addresses reroute to other active websites. As regards the rugbymen themselves, French Frederic Michalak owns four trademarks composed by his name, but only one domain name (michalak.fr). Amazingly, we found out that michalak. com, michalak.biz, michalak.net, and even fredericmichalak.com are reserved in the name of companies or people without apparent link with the rugby player.
These trademark tactics highlight the financial weight of professional sport activities and show how trademarks seem to be money makers rather than real defensive tools. It seems that that the awaited fighting spirit is not as developed as it should be, to have the monopoly of the rugby teams and their