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Farrer & Co | Open access to sporting stars medical data will bring change

This article was first published by Citywealth, reproduced here with kind permission of the editor.

Julian Pike discusses the success of the "Brand Beckham" concept and how UK athletes can protect their image.

How do sports stars protect their image rights?

While English law does not recognise 'image rights' as a protectable right, a number of athletes register trademarks which then provide their image with a form of protection. To a large extent, however, it is left to commercial negotiations between the athlete and the club or national governing body to come to an arrangement whereby the athlete receives a percentage of merchandise sales and the like. Those likely to develop a strong marketability should plan to develop, protect and exploit their image. David Beckham is a superb example of someone who has done this to great effect. He and his advisers developed the whole "Brand Beckham" concept and have established him as an instantly recognisable brand, which continues to outlast his playing career and shows no sign of waning.

Many athletes have been tarnished by doping scandals. How can they repair the damage?

It will require leadership and cultural change within governing bodies to bring about real improvement. Individual athletes can in the meantime look to put clear water between themselves and the dopers so as to lift themselves above suspicion. Those athletes, such as cyclist Chris Froome, who have been open with their medical data, are achieving that, although there will remain a residue of suspicion, however unfair that may be.

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If you require further information on anything covered in this briefing please contact Julian Pike (julian.pike@farrer.co.uk; +44(0)20 375 7614), or your usual contact at the firm on 020 3375 7000. Further information can also be found on the Sports page on our website.

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