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mcd sports & legal
Weekly news round-up #1

· Golf,Technology,Trade Marks,Football,Law Practice
Part of my new year's resolution was to take the time to write and blog more, and it starts here!  On roughly a weekly basis I will share a selection of my favorite stories in sports, law, technology, business and anything else which takes my interest.
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Jamie
Golf: European & Asian Tour merger far from a done-deal

A potential European Tour and Asian Tour merger was announced last August as a “joint vision” between the two organisations.  Reading between the lines it seems that the original announcement was based on a letter of intent or similar, with much work still to be done to reach formal agreement.  Importantly, the original announcement confirmed the commencement of an “exclusive” negotiating period which will have been critical to the European Tour to deter the rumoured overtures the PGA Tour was also making towards the Asian Tour.    

From this latest news, it is clear that the merger remains very much in the balance.  It was initially supported by Asian Tour management and (narrowly) by the membership, but the players have now had second thoughts amid concerns over their playing opportunities and have ousted the previous management and board.   Much further discussion will likely have taken place at last week’s EurAsia Cup in Malaysia, with a view to giving Asian Tour members assurances that a merger will work in their favour.  I can’t help but think that these discussions, and potential merger, represent a critical period in the development of professional golf.  The European Tour has been suffering for a number of years following the credit crunch and has been very much in the shadow of the PGA Tour’s continued strength, but crucially it has managed to maintain its presence and some key events in Asia.  The merger, combined with the inevitable continued growth of Asian golf in the Olympic era, presents an opportunity for the new tour to emerge as a genuine competitor to the PGA Tour.  Watch this space.

Man-sized drones

Putting aside the potential legal issues for a moment, this man-sized drone is insane!  I guess it was inevitable that drones would develop to the point where they could carry people but this article still caught my eye.  It also raises some startlingly obvious questions, like – what the hell happens in the event of engine failure?! 

Regulation of drone usage is a pretty hot legal topic right now.  Here in Sweden there was a recent tightening of regulations to add nuclear plants to the list of “no-fly” zones, while even the quickest google search found two dedicated legal blogs (kudos to the appropriately titled http://dronelaw.com and http://dronelawjournal.com).  As drones become more common, and further applications are found for their usage, the regulatory environment is just going to get messier.  Just another example of technology outpacing the law.

Football and trade marks: “The Normal One”

This is a great little story which picks up on Liverpool FC’s application to register the phrase “The Normal One” as a trade mark.  The Normal One being their new manager Jurgen Klopp, this being how he described himself when comparisons were made to Jose Mourinho who famously called himself “The Special One”.  Most people associate trade marks with logos and tag-lines but it is becoming more and more popular to push the boundaries to attempt to protect (and commercialise) sayings and catch phrases.  John McEnroe, for example, attempted to trade mark “You cannot be serious” but I believe that was eventually rejected as I cannot find a live registration.  Besides from being essential in brand building and licensing, trade marks can also be an important tool against image rights infringement, given the lack of formal image rights protection (in the UK at least). 

Metallica sack their lawyer

Good on Metallica for getting this one right and sacking their IP lawyer who had taken it upon himself write to a Canadian tribute band “Sandman”, requesting that they refrain from future usage of Metallica’s name and trade mark.  A link to the original letter is in the second page of the article – the fact that the letter had to be addressed to the band c/o FitzRays Restaurant & Lounge really should have been a dead give away that they did not pose a genuine threat to Metallica’s global IP portfolio!

I have written a bunch of cease and desist letters in my time, but I am always wary to get the tone right, particularly where the “offender” is relatively innocent or naïve. Otherwise you risk doing more damage to the client’s brand than the original infringement…

Jamie McDonald is a business and legal advisor operating in the sports, technology, media and entertainment industries. He specialises in advising athletes, sports events, media organisations and tech companies on both commercial and legal issues. Prior to founding his consultancy sportsandlegal.com he was in-house counsel for IMG Golf in London for 7.5 years.
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