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Sorry Manchester United, 'Jose Mourinho' is a registered trademark of Chelsea Football Club


Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Jose Mourinho was supposed to be announced as Manchester United manager yesterday, but negotiations are still ongoing and resolution isn't expected until at least tomorrow.  One of the major issues apparently holding up the proceedings are Mourinho's "image rights", namely the control of the name "Jose Mourinho" in commercial applications.

That trademark currently belongs to Chelsea Football Club, registered with both the UK and the EU Intellectual Property Offices (until 2023 and 2025, respectively).  This isn't unique or new: the Daily Mail points out we still own the trademark on "Ancelotti" as well.  Intellectual Property is tremendously important in all forms of business, including sports and the business of being a professional sports-person.  (Unsurprisingly, Chelsea also own it in the USA.)

While none of this actually prevents Mourinho from becoming manager of other clubs, it does sour the deal for Manchester United a bit since right now, they cannot use their new manager's name in marketing or just about any other commercial applications.  The IP regulations are very specific, and allow only Chelsea to use Jose Mourinho's name on things such as mugs and cups and other "domestic utensils and containers" and games and football and other "sporting articles".  The EU trademark extends even further and includes toiletries, jewelry, clothing, and a whole host of other things far too numerous to mention.  You might think this is laughable, but we're talking millions and millions in potential revenue (and not just for Manchester United but for Manchester United's sponsors as well).

It's not quite clear what potential resolutions are possible in this case.  Are there processes available to United to force Chelsea to give up the trademark?  Could we sell them?  Mourinho will obviously become Manchester United manager in the next few days, but this complication could add a bit of extra spice to the proceedings.

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