Using football team and player names

'Is it legal', 'can I do this' type questions and discussions.
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rtg123
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Using football team and player names

Post by rtg123 » Tue Nov 22, 2016 3:39 pm

We are working on a project and need to integrate football player names and clubs into a website and app. Our intention is to exclude imagery and logo's but just include the names. I have searched online and am unable to find a definitive answer to this - do the names fall under copyright restrictions?

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AndyJ
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Post by AndyJ » Tue Nov 22, 2016 7:06 pm

Hi rtg123

No, names of people and football clubs are not subject to copyright, as they are classed as 'facts'. At most, some names of football clubs may be registered as trade marks but that shouldn't prevent you from compiling a database of club and player names.

The only other intellectual property aspect you need to be aware of is to avoid giving the impression that either the players or the clubs have endorsed your app, as this might amount to something called passing off. The racing driver Eddie Irvine once successfully sued a radio station for using his likeness in an advert for the station, which it was claimed, implied that Irvine was endorsing the particular sports programme concerned.
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

rtg123
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Post by rtg123 » Wed Nov 23, 2016 4:19 pm

Thank you. Our app will engage with fans and encourage the audience to interact and provide opinions on certain stages of play within a game in real time. I understand fixtures are copyright but are results - as these are also 'facts'?

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Post by AndyJ » Wed Nov 23, 2016 7:12 pm

Hi again rtg,

Yes, results are also 'facts' because no-one creates them in the sense that an author creates a work of literature or an artist a painting, and so they are generally not subject to copyright protection. In a couple of landmark cases, the arranging of fixtures was said to involve considerable skill on the part of those making the fixture selections, and for this reason some fixtures attract copyright. It is arguable that where a random system (such as picking teams from a hat) is used to create a fixture list and that subsequent matches are dictated by earlier results, no skill will be expended in creating the fixture list and so no copyright would apply in that case.

Added to this is risk of infringing a less well-known IP right known as database right. Database right, as its name suggests, protects the compilation of data including facts which comprise a database where skill and resources have been expended in obtaining, verifying or presenting the contents of the database. As many consolidated lists of fixtures and results are held as databases, care needs to be taken not to lift the data you require from a single source, or from a database which is the sole repository of that information. Infringement occurs as follows:
16.—(1) Subject to the provisions of this Part, a person infringes database right in a database if, without the consent of the owner of the right, he extracts or re-utilises all or a substantial part of the contents of the database.

(2) For the purposes of this Part, the repeated and systematic extraction or re-utilisation of insubstantial parts of the contents of a database may amount to the extraction or re-utilisation of a substantial part of those contents.
However given that major results are widely promulgated in all sorts of formats, re-using the results taken from multiple sources should not pose a problem with regard to database right.
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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