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It’s been almost exactly five years since legendary sprinter Usain Bolt last hit the track: in fact, I was in the stadium watching his final 100m race at the 2017 World Championships in London. Nonetheless, his name and reputation lives on as one of the greatest sportsmen of all time, and his recent trademark activity suggests he shows no signs of slowing down soon.
On August 17, Mr. Bolt filed a trademark application in the United States for a logo based on his signature celebratory pose: a silhouette showing a figure leaning back while pointing both arms up. This is not a new logo: there are registrations for the same mark in the Bolt name in territories as diverse as the UK, EU, China, Argentina and Mexico, the oldest of which dates back to 2009.
There are two things to note about this repository, however. The first is that the track and field star had previously abandoned a US application for the same mark because he was unable to provide the required proof of use of the mark in trade. A new filing means it’s considering more serious expansion into the US market. The other is the range of products and services covered by the application: among them are terms not covered by its previous filings around the world, such as sunglasses, jewelry and, perhaps most interestingly , catering and sports bar services. Maybe we’re about to see the launch of a Bolt-themed bar in the United States.
Usain Bolt is blessed with an image next to his name immediately associated with his accomplishments by fans, similar to Michael Jordan’s slam-dunk logo. It can be extremely beneficial for an individual to develop a logo that identifies their business beyond its name.
As a general rule, sports stars spend much longer in retirement than at the peak of their careers. Trademark protection can help ensure that their legacy lives on after they hang up their spikes, but it’s important for athletes to consider the right protection for their possible future business interests. Partnering with a qualified trademark attorney is the best way to develop a comprehensive brand strategy that can protect a star’s rights around the world.
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