Guernsey's image right has been the subject of much attention, most of it ranging from the amused to the frivolous, on the part of the intellectual property community. In August of last year the affluent island announced the first registration of an image right by a commercial entity. This sounded tremendously exciting, but the reality failed to match up to the fanfare of publicity when it turned out that the first commercial entity to register its image right with Icondia, Guernsey's Image Rights Specialist, was ... Icondia [on which see this short Katnote here].
The image of the island's image rights appears to have taken another self-inflicted hammering with an announcement, today, proudly headed "FIRST IMAGE RIGHTS REGISTRATION OF A FOOTBALL CLUB UNDER NEW IMAGE RIGHTS LAW". Who might it be, this Kat wondered? Barcelona or Real Madrid, perhaps? Inter-Milan? Paris St-Germain? Bayern Munich? Or maybe a leading team closer to home, such as one of the two high-flying Manchester clubs, Liverpool, Arsenal or Chelsea? No, the team so gravely worried about someone running off with its image was Guernsey Football Club. This club plays in the Isthmian League [never heard of it? Shame on you!] along with such famous sides as Folkestone Invicta [the word 'invicta' is the Latin for 'unbeaten'. Merpel suggests that they change it quickly before they get in trouble for making a misrepresentation, having already lost seven matches this season], Three Bridges and divisional leaders Peacehaven & Telscombe. Curiously, this division does contain one team with a genuine image and reputation worthy of protection: Corinthian-Casuals, but that's another story. Today's press release reads, in relevant part, as follows:
Icondia, the Image Rights Registration specialist, is delighted to announce that it has just submitted an application for registration of the Image Rights for Guernsey Football Club (“GFC”) as a corporate personality.
This Kat's not so sure that Arsenal's well-documented difficulties were caused by having the wrong trial judge, Spurs-supporting Sir Hugh Laddie, rather than by the lack of legal protection. Indeed, ultimately that case appeared to cause more trouble to the learned and much-loved trial judge than it did to the victorious Arsenal.
As a result of GFC registering its personality, any unique and distinctive attributes of the club personality may receive statutory protection against the deliberate infringement and unauthorised economic exploitation of those images by others.
Aspects of the club’s personality that are classified as images include such elements as its insignia, club strip, catch phrases, slogans, merchandise and – most importantly - images of the club’s players wearing the GFC strip.
Commenting, Keith Laker, CEO of Icondia said:
“We pointed out the well-documented difficulties that Arsenal FC had more than a decade ago [in Arsenal v Reed, here], in attempting to control the sale of unauthorised memorabilia. The point was not lost on the GFC, which despite its size, is extremely forward-thinking on all matters concerning image”. ...The IRO brings clarity to an area of law where at present there is often ambiguity as to what can be considered as ‘image rights’. Furthermore, registration using the Guernsey law does not necessarily negate any existing contractual arrangements regarding image rights. On the contrary, this law potentially strengthens those other arrangements.
Merpel wonders just who is going to want to steal the image of so obscure a football team.
More on Guernsey's image right here and here