names of footballers/football clubs as copyright

'Is it legal', 'can I do this' type questions and discussions.
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iain gourlay
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names of footballers/football clubs as copyright

Post by iain gourlay » Thu May 04, 2017 6:04 am

good morning everyone new member
I would like to try a venture with regards to football players names, football clubs names on pennants and scarfs I will be making
they wont be or wont have the logos/crest of any of the clubs
I have been in touch with an artist whom I have paid and he has given me permission to use his work on said venture
the artist drawings have in the artwork the name of said footballer ie bobby moore Stanley Matthews alongside his drawings
would it then be legal/illegal for me to then put the club name alongside the artwork?
ie bobby moore west ham uited
bobby Charlton mancheter united
basically what I am saying is I am adding the club name the individual played for
eg take a great team like celtic(Lisbon lions)
Manchester united(busby babes) are the names I have bracketed copyright
do these particular clubs own these names and if so then would be subject to copy right infringement
thanks in advance and best wishes iain

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AndyJ
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Post by AndyJ » Thu May 04, 2017 6:48 am

Hi Iain,

I can't see any major legal problem with your proposed venture. Names in general are not subject to copyright because they are facts, not creative works. So on that basis attributing a footballer to the club he is most associated with is just a statement of fact.

If there is any risk at all, it lies in the possibility of trade mark infringement in the use of those club names which are registered trade marks. Although there is no reason why any fan should be confused about the origin of a scarf bearing a portrait of, say, Bobby Moore, clubs like West Ham protect their branding with rigour and so I would certainly expect them to try and object to you competing with their merchandise. Whether they might have a strong enough claim to prevail is not something we can resolve on this forum. You would need to check with the IPO's register of trade marks to see if the informal nicknames, such as Busby's Babes, were registered and make a decision about using them according to what you discover. Incidentally, Busby's Babes is not a registered mark. However Lisbon Lions is a registered mark but not for clothing etc and so you should be free to use that name on scarves etc.

On a brighter note, as the UK does not have publicity rights laws, there is no problem about using the likeness of the individual footballers in this way. Nor would passing off be an issue since the sporting personalities are not being associated with any product other than the scarf or pennant itself.
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

iain gourlay
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names of footballers/football clubs as copyright

Post by iain gourlay » Fri May 05, 2017 6:44 am

hi andy
thanks for reply
very much appreciated, and very interesting, I would love to pm you
but not allowed due to fact I am a new member, so thank you for now,
in essence if I was to omit the name of the club from the garment
only putting on the players name be it bobby moore, bobby Charlton, or George best, alongside the artists drawing(which I have paid him for)
then basically that would be okay?
again thanks and best wishes iain

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AndyJ
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Post by AndyJ » Fri May 05, 2017 7:36 am

Hi Iain,

It would certainly be less likely that you would be hassled by the clubs if you omit their names. But before doing so, it might be worth contacting each of the clubs and explaining your idea to see if they might agree to their name being used. Obviously if they say no or want a substantial licence fee, you can just walk away, but if they agree, then you can go ahead with your project as originally envisaged.
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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