Intellectual Property and Sports; Importance, Landmarks and Current Trends.

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The world of sport has fast become a billion-dollar entity, morphing from a mere recreational activity to a financial and economic haven. In its own right, sporting activities account for over 3.7% of the aggregate GNP of the twenty-eight EU states. It is also responsible for over 3% of world trade. It employs fifteen million people in the EU, which is about 5.4% of the entire European labor force. In December 2020, NBA superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo agreed to sign a five-year contract extension with the Milwaukee Bucks worth $228.2 million, in what is the largest deal in NBA history today. Barcelona FC conceded in January 2021 that Lionel Messi indeed earned $167 million a year on a 4-year contract he signed in 2017.

Evidently, sport is now bigger than it has ever been, in terms of its lucrativeness and the human resource it employs. It is only natural that in an industry with so much money and people, there would exist a barrage of laws. Although there is no defined and distinct ‘sports law’, it is governed by the basic principles found in our civil and criminal laws.

Arbitration is the primary dispute resolution mechanism employed in sport, with the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) the apex Court for this purpose. The CAS recently overturned the UEFA’s club financial control body (CFCB) decision banning Manchester City FC based on allegations that the club is involved in serious breaches of financial fair play regulations.  Recent trends in sports have shown that intellectually property is increasingly regarded as a major source of value and revenue and is thereby heavily guarded. This article focuses on these intellectual property considerations in sports law.

[1] George Ramsey (2021) Barcelona denies responsibility for leak after report reveals Lionel Messi’s record $672 million contract

Blackshaw I.S. (2017) IP and Sport. In: International Sports Law: An Introductory Guide. Short Studies in International Law. T.M.C. Asser Press, The Hague.


Ajuyah Tuale

Nnadi, Ezinne Tochukwu

Intellectual Property and Sports was last modified: April 30th, 2021 by judge
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