Use of players names in a fantasy sport application

Advice for those new to the concepts of copyright
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CQuinn
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Use of players names in a fantasy sport application

Post by CQuinn »

Hi guys,

Myself and a few colleagues are in the process of making a new fantasy sports app which in order for it to work will require the use of players names from professional sports. Our original application let’s say V1 will primarily be based in the English Premier league where users are required to select a certain number of players to form a team. My main question is what are the main legal concerns in relation to copyright, I should be considering and what is the best way of going about them.

Any guidance would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance!

Craig
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AndyJ
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Re: Use of players names in a fantasy sport application

Post by AndyJ »

Hi Craig,

Names of people are not subject to copyright. This is because, generally speaking they are treated as 'facts' and facts alone cannot attract copyright which is a form of monopoly. Some professional footballers may have registered their names as trade marks for sponsorship purposes and this could cause you a problem if you advertised your app by featuring such a player's name. However it seems unlikely that you would do this. Lastly, you should not give the impression that any of the named players or their clubs have endorsed your app as this could lead to a claim for passing off (see here for an example of how this can come about).
Advice or comment provided here is not and does not purport to be legal advice as defined by s.12 of Legal Services Act 2007
CQuinn
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Re: Use of players names in a fantasy sport application

Post by CQuinn »

Hi Andy,

Thank you for that, it was one of our main queries we wanted to find out before getting in too deep with this application! The use of these players names will only be for the user to know and understand who they are selecting, there would be no use to promote any specific player or team, it will simply be just a large thread of names.
On this topic, am I correct in saying using the name or abbreviation of each team the players play for would require permission from the governing bodies?
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AndyJ
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Re: Use of players names in a fantasy sport application

Post by AndyJ »

Hi again Craig,

No, exactly the same rules apply to club names and nicknames. They are not subject to copyright but they are likely to registered as trade marks. Provided that you do not use registered trade marks to advertise or promote your app you won't be using the names "in the course of trade' which is the essential ingredient if any claim of trade mark infringement is to succeed. However if you were to add club or Premier League logos into the mix, copyright does come into the issue because these are usually treated as artistic works as well as being registered trade marks. However from what you have told us so far that doesn't appear to be part of the app.
Advice or comment provided here is not and does not purport to be legal advice as defined by s.12 of Legal Services Act 2007
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