Clifford Gouldson Lawyers

All aboard the Hayne Plane!

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You may have been following the news and noted that former Australian Rugby League player Jarryd Hayne has been showing the Americans that if you want to play real football, you need to bring in an Aussie.  What might surprise you though is that your business, or those businesses you advise, could and should take note of his attitude to intellectual property (IP) protection off the field. 

Just as in football, it’s all about good timing and balance – balancing the costs and the advice you receive against the potential growth in your business. 

So what lessons can we learn from Jarryd?   

T- Timing

Applying to register his name now while he is still a relative unknown in the States gives him priority over every cheap t-shirt shop and counterfeit goods producer that may look at his IP as a soft target and gives him a headstart on the lengthy registration process.  When Nike comes knocking in a few months’ time, he will have secured ownership of his trade marks.  Is your business similarly protected and ready for new opportunities? 

I – Image

Unlike Damon Hill or Jacques Villeneuve, who sought to register their faces as trade marks, Jarryd has clearly been advised that it is difficult to show that you use your face as an indication of the origin of certain goods and services (except perhaps football services, irrelevant to most counterfeiters).

Instead Jarryd has recently sought to create a unique logo that will become associated with him from the start, giving him a pre-made brand to licence and exploit from the ground up.  He has also already secured registration of his nickname as ‘The Hayne Plane’ – creating a family of brands to exploit for the benefit of his business.

M- Money

One of the biggest errors many sports stars make is to be rushed into spending money applying to protect all variations of their names, all over the world, when in fact their success on the football field or court may not eventuate to support that level of spending.  (Michael Schumacher was a notable exception to this rule!) 

By dipping a toe into the water and firstly registering in only one country, he can take advantage of the WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organisation) system and sit tight for up to 6 months until that football contract is secured.  Then he and his management team can look at a number of factors, including television ratings worldwide, sponsorship/endorsement revenue and licensing deals to determine which countries support a commercial case for registration. 

Then he can use the WIPO application system to backdate his applications to the date of his first application and take priority over any unscrupulous entities who have sought to register his name in the intervening period.   When considering your intellectual property rights and the steps you need to take to protect them, you and your advisors should sit down and create a hierarchy of brands and needs, based around the core areas of your business and the areas of growth and then develop a considered strategy to protect them. 

E- Enforcement  

Jarryd and his team have sent a powerful deterrent message to those who make their living from the creativity of others.  He has also sent a more positive message to potential partners in business, about professionalism and a readiness to make the most of the opportunities that may come his way. 

Are you and your clients similarly prepared? 

The Clifford Gouldson Intellectual Property Team can work with advisors and their clients to ensure their IP is both protected and in a position to be capitalised on.  Our team has international experience and we are well placed to assist small to medium enterprise, or large public companies, with their IP protection and commercialisation.


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