Businesses urged to take leaf out of footballer Gareth Bale’s book to protect their brand

The Welsh football star, whose hugely successful season in the Premier League at London’s Tottenham Hotspur has seen him linked with moves to top clubs across Europe, has taken steps toward developing his own brand by trademarking a logo based on his goal celebration.

Called ‘Eleven of Hearts’, the logo features two hands shaped as a heart with the figure 11 appearing in the centre. Files at the Intellectual Property Office outline that it is designed to appear on merchandise including clothing and footwear.

Industry commentators have suggested that the move could prove hugely valuable to Bale and now legal specialists at Irwin Mitchell are calling on businesses to think carefully about the lessons they can learn from the football star’s decision.

Joanne Bone, a Partner and specialist in intellectual property and branding protection issues at the national law, outlined: “Bale’s decision sees him follow in the footsteps of other footballers such as David Beckham, who have been able to exploit their successful image on the pitch and take that success into products or merchandise.

“It is further evidence of how footballers and sportspeople in general are now very switched on to the importance of their image, as well as the development of recognisable insignias or logos which suit a broad, generic use.

“There is plenty for businesses to learn from this kind of activity and it is important that company owners consider what shapes the general view of their operations – whether it is a specific, recognisable logo, certain colour shades and branding, or even slogans.

“By protecting any distinguishing marks, companies are able to protect what makes their brand so powerful, as well as lay the foundations for the potential use of that brand in a range of ways.”

Joanne added: “Identifying and protecting branding and colour can be hugely important. Just last year Cadbury reached a successful conclusion in their legal battle with Nestle related to the use of Pantone 2685C – the shade of purple made famous on products including Dairy Milk.

“The fact that this dispute – purely over the use of a specific shade of colour – lasted four years demonstrates how this is not an issue which can be underestimated. We would urge any companies unsure about this issue to consider legal advice to ensure all aspects of branding they hold dear are protected.”