Trademarking a Pose, Can you? – Image and Branding
No it will not cost Usain Bolt for doing the famous ‘Mobot’ pose in the London 2012 Olympics in honour of the famous British runner, Mo Farah. Mo Farah has (with the help of others, see video below) developed and trademarked his own celebratory pose, the ‘Mobot’. However, Bolt has done nothing that will require any payments for its use. So Bolt is free to honour his friend and fellow athlete this way, similar to how others honour him by striking the famous “To Do World” pose.
So why do they trademarks their poses then?
Understanding the Use of Trademarks
Did you know that a number of athletes have trademark poses? The World Intellectual Property Organization writes about how some athletes are able to trademark themselves or even their pose and earn significantly from their brand. They write;
Many sports personalities are able to generate significant earnings both from leveraging their own brand as elite athletes and from sponsorship deals with various brand owners. Examples include star athlete Usain Bolt, tennis ace Roger Federer and golf’s Tiger Woods. Sporting celebrities can register themselves as trademarks, not only their own name but also nicknames, poses, slogans, signatures, or other insignia for which they well known. Thus Usain Bolt’s “Lightening Bolt” pose and his “to di world” slogan, Michael Jordan’s “jumpman” pose and his Air Jordan brand shoes (basketball), and Johnny Wilkinson’s distinct kicking stance (rugby) are all registered trademarks.
Interesting, How Does The Trademark Work?
The United States Patent and Trademark Office defines a trademark;
A trademark is a brand name. A trademark or service mark includes any word, name, symbol, device, or any combination, used or intended to be used to identify and distinguish the goods/services of one seller or provider from those of others, and to indicate the source of the goods/services.
So pretty much the trademark would be the “To Di World” sign on an official Usain Bolt shirt that would be used to distinguish it from other knock-offs. The trademark helps to differentiate real products from the fake ones.
As Answers.com put it
A “trademark” has to be associated with a valid saleable product. If the product doesn’t make money then you won’t either.
Or put another way, Bolt would have had to be using this pose on a physical product, making money from his pose, or intending to make money from it in such a way to breach any of the trademarks.
So How Did Mo Farah’s ‘Mobot’ Pose Start?
In our previous post, we mentioned Usain Bolt’s trademarked To Di World pose and his marketability. Now, Mo Farah winner of his second Olympic gold in the 5,000m, and one of Britain’s greatest athletes ever has with the help some talented people and creativity developed his own trademarked style – The Mobot.
Athletics weekly has written about the story behind the Mo Farah pose.
World champion Mo Farah has started the Olympic year in superb form, running an impressive one-night 1500m/5000m double in California last month, winning his fourth successive title at the Bupa London 10,000, and easily defeating Olympic champion Kenenisa Bekele over 5000m at the recent Diamond League meeting in Eugene.
But the biggest talking point about Farah in recent weeks has not been his world-beating performances – it’s his new celebration pose as he crosses the line. So how did it come about?
Farah recently appeared on Sky HD1 show A League Of Their Ownand the topic of Usain Bolt’s “to di world” victory pose came up. Presenter James Corden suggested that Farah should start a new pose of his own in a bid for it to catch on by the time of the London 2012 Olympics.
Watch this video to see the inception of the pose.
What do you think? Did you realize that athletes could trademark their poses?