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Friday April 26th is World Intellectual Property (IP) Day. Every year, World IP Day puts a lens on the far-reaching scope of IP and how it fosters innovation and creativity across diverse industries. This year’s theme, Reach for Gold: IP and Sports, provides us a chance to acknowledge IP’s long-standing contributions to sports around the globe.
Why does it matter:
The modern sports economy requires a robust IP infrastructure to thrive and grow. While it may not be apparent to fans, IP rights and incentives – including patents, trademarks, and copyrights – are what encourage and protect important innovations and mechanisms that power the sports world. Aspects of the industry affected by IP range from broadcasting, marketing, apparel, ticket sales, and stadiums to sports medicine, digital infrastructure, transportation, and shipping.
What’s the latest:
The increasing popularity of sports has fueled demand for innovative consumer experiences that make the game more accessible and interactive. This has ignited fierce competition among innovators to create new products and experiences for athletes and fans. For example, global sporting events such as the FIFA World Cup and Olympics have facilitated innovation in broadcasting, giving viewers around the world the opportunity to better cheer on their home country.
However, the expansion of sports at the international level isn’t limited to events like the Olympics or World Cup. The NFL, whose fan base spans continents, continues to globalize its brand. The 2019 season will feature more games in Mexico and London, keeping up with the league’s promise to increase access to international fans.
IP benefits stakeholders at all levels of the sports economy. For example, at this year’s NCAA March Madness basketball tournaments, IP played an important role both on the sidelines and behind the scenes leading up to Virginia’s and Notre Dame’s big wins. College basketball teams participating in the tournament relied on IP protections of their brands and logos to protect their licensed merchandise from counterfeits. At the local level, cities that host tournament games receive an influx of visitors that boost local businesses and spur economic activity.
Number to know:
$700 billion. Our study, “Leveraging Intellectual Property in the Global Sports Economy,” quantified the global sports economy as an asset worth one percent of global GDP. This number reflects the sale of sporting goods, apparel, and equipment in addition to health and fitness spending. Additionally, a wide array of stakeholders, ranging from entrepreneurs to employees, rely on this dynamic sector for their wages, benefits, and economic well-being.
“There are few unifying forces greater than sports, and that’s exactly why they are essential to economies and cultures around the world. The sports industry also drives some of the most powerful brands in the world, from team gear and live broadcasts accessible on any device to the latest sporting equipment. The intellectual property tied to sports is a driving component of the exponential growth of the sports industry. Innovators are reforming both the athlete and fan experience through advancements in player safety, gear, broadcasting, and streaming services, which boosts economies and creates high-skill, high-value jobs. We all win when IP plays a starring role in the sports economy.”
– David Hirschmann, President and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Global Innovation Policy Center
If countries continue to champion innovators and creators, strengthening IP rights, the sports ndustry can expect more slam dunks, homeruns, and touchdowns over the next few decades. Athletes will have access to new training tools and medical innovations, fans will be able to see games in revolutionary ways, and venues can embrace new technology and reengineer modern infrastructure for an enhanced fan experience.