Infringement on football club logos

'Is it legal', 'can I do this' type questions and discussions.
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Fedeg23
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Infringement on football club logos

Post by Fedeg23 »

Hi everyone!
I'm a journalist from Argentina and I just finished writing a book about all the top divisions of each European football league. In my work, I use several football team logos and names from each of the 55 UEFA member associations.

I wanted to know if I need the approval of each of the clubs (some are extinct) to publish the book in the Latin American/EU Market, or if they can pass as mere illustrations, since they are only there to give colour to each of the team profiles (example, date of foundation, stadium, city, rival teams, etc).

Thank you all so much!

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AndyJ
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Re: Infringement on football club logos

Post by AndyJ »

Hi Fedeg23,

As you are probably aware there are two separate intellectual property rights involved here: copyright and trade marks. I think we can dismiss trade marks in this instance as you do not propose, as far as I can see, to use the logos in a way which could be interpreted as advertising or promoting the sale of goods (your book).

I suspect that virtually all these association logos will be protected by copyright as artistic works. It may be debatable whether they are all truly artistic, but let's assume that the majority are. Under normal circumstances this means that, within the European Union at least, permission is required to copy the logos, as the relevant EU law on this subject (Article 5 of the EU Information Society Directive*) does not appear to provide an exception which covers the purpose of using the logos in your book. I appreciate that not all UEFA members are also members of the EU, and that the UEFA headquarters are in Switzerland, but EU law provides something of the gold standard for copyright protection, and so if a challenge were to come, I would expect it to be launched by an Association based within the EU.

If this concerned the logos of, say, some famous car makers, I would be confident that you could go ahead without worrying about getting permission, but as you will know, UEFA and its member associations are keen to monetize every aspect of their respective brands, and will resist any unauthorised attempt to exploit their intellectual property however well-intentioned that may be, in order not to encourage bootleggers and sellers of counterfeit goods etc. So for that reason I would suggest that you do seek permission, perhaps by first approaching UEFA itself to see if they are authorised to give blanket permission on behalf of all their members, which would save you time and work.

Even though an association, such as the Deutscher Fußball-Verband der DDR, may no longer exist, someone will no doubt still own the intellectual property rights associated with the former association, most probably in this case, the Deutscher Fußball-Bund, and so you may need to track down the current owners, possibly by going to the current national governing body for football in that territory.

I don't think we need to consider the copyright situation for publishing in the Central or South American markets (which is just as well as I have very little knowledge about that!), because the European publishing scene is where I think you would face the greatest challenge.


* Your English appears perfect to me, but if you would prefer to read the Directive in Spanish, you can find it here.
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

Fedeg23
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Re: Infringement on football club logos

Post by Fedeg23 »

Hey Andy!

First of all thank you incredibly much for your help, it's really appreciated. Perfect, what I was looking for was THAT concrete law from the EU. I will try to contact all the associations and clubs that appear in the book, it will be an uphill battle, but nevertheless I want to rule out that option first.

I have contacted UEFA but their email was a bit cyptic: they have given me a permission to use their name and logos and such, but they did not state clearly if it refers to the teams, associations AND UEFA organized competitions or only the latter ones (I believe its only the competitions)

I will keep on looking but, thanks to you, I now have a clear path ahead.

Cheers and have a great day!

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