The sports industry is a very broad business, ranging from the sale of food and sports souvenirs to the sale of broadcasting rights and sponsorship agreements. There are many stakeholders in this industry, from clubs, leagues and sponsors to broadcasters and, of course, manufacturers of the equipment that makes top-level sport possible: the sporting goods industry. According to a study by the consulting firm A.T. Kearny, the value of the global sports industry is estimated at $620 billion.
Sporting goods companies, both large and small, spend millions of dollars each year developing new and improved products not only for the benefit of elite athletes, but also for the benefit of fans and people who like to wear comfortable sports shoes and clothing on a daily basis. Many of these companies also invest large sums of money to support talented young athletes in communities around the world – young people who promise to become the sporting heroes of the future. The IP system, and the protection it provides, plays a vital role in enabling sporting goods manufacturers to continue to invest in research and development of more effective and affordable equipment for the athletes of today and tomorrow.
Virtually all sports have benefited from advances in materials and engineering processes. The natural materials (wood, rope, gut, rubber) used in the manufacture of the equipment of yesteryear have been progressively replaced by a wide range of highly sophisticated synthetic materials such as alloys and polymers. Equipment made from these lighter and more durable materials has enabled athletes around the world to minimize injuries and push the limits of their performance.
German entrepreneur Adolf “Adi” Dassler, founder of Adidas, was one of the first to successfully market a technologically enhanced sports article by manufacturing an innovative football boot with a lightweight nylon sole and studs. With these boots, the German team won the 1954 World Cup final against Hungary in Bern, Switzerland. Due to the heavy rain, the ground was very slippery, so the German team chose to use Adi Dassler’s innovative boots. His longer heels improved the players’ grip, allowing them greater control of the ball, an advantage that helped them win the match.
Since then, advances in sports footwear design have been spectacular thanks to significant investment in research and development (R&D). Today, major sports goods manufacturers, like Nike, Puma, Asics and others, allocate over 1% of their annual sales volume to R+D.
In (carefully monitored) high-tech test laboratories equipped with the latest advances, sports brands work closely with elite athletes, where they measure and record their movements in order to develop equipment for optimal performance. Some even have facilities specifically designed to develop and test the equipment under various conditions. Aqualab, Speedo’s global research and development centre, for example, worked with athletes, coaches, sports scientists, hydrodynamics experts, optical engineers and psychologists to create its innovative Fastskin Racing System®. This extensive range of swimwear and swimming equipment works together to allow swimmers to cut through the water with maximum efficiency. It is in these complex laboratories that the technological race of the sport takes place.
The world’s lightest sports shoes are ultra-lightweight and a “featherweight” and are the sum of countless technologies. The neon yellow Nike Zoom Victory Elite nail-on shoe, part of Nike’s Volt collection designed especially for the Olympic Games, is worn by the 10,000 and 5,000-meter champion Mo Farah and some 400 other athletes and weighs just 98 grams. The adizero Prime SP nail-on shoe by Adidas, created in collaboration with American sprinter Tyson Gay and British heptathlete Jessica Ennis, also weighs under 100 grams.
This is the game of high technology – the neuralgic formula that drives the creation of new, sophisticated products. These, in turn, allow for exemplary performance that beats brands and that the media and sports fans around the world love.
Technological convergence and smart sportswear are the latest trend in sportswear innovation. The growth prospects for high-tech sports are such that many non-sport brands are keen to capture a share of the market. Major consumer electronics manufacturers, such as Apple, Nokia and Samsung, are working closely with top sports brands to develop new sports-related technologies (and new revenue streams). For example, Apple Inc. has already made inroads into the industry with its Nike + iPod sports package, which, thanks to sensors placed in Nike+ shoes, allows iPod users to get real-time information during training sessions and track performance.
In January 2012, Apple was granted a patent (U.S. Patent No. 8,088,258) for a “smart garment” that attaches advanced sensors that transfer data – such as location information, user physiometric data, garment performance and wear data – to an external data processing device, such as a portable digital media player connected to a computer server.
Estimates indicate that sports sensor sales will increase from 20 million in 2011 to about 170 million in 2017. Not surprisingly, there is so much interest in this buoyant market that it promises the birth of new joint ventures and licensing agreements. The success of such ventures will depend, in large part, on effective management of IP assets and access to affordable, efficient and user-friendly IP services, such as the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT).
Sporting goods of the 21st century symbolize sport, lifestyle and fashion. Product design, whether retro or forward-looking, is fundamental to their commercial success. Protecting the rights to these designs is equally important. Design rights (known as design patents in the United States) are an important tool that allow manufacturers of sporting goods to defend themselves against infringement. Earlier this year, for example, Nike filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Nevada against an Asian footwear manufacturer, alleging infringement of 23 of its registered design patents.
The importance of IP in the business strategies of sporting goods companies cannot be underestimated. It is a critical factor in maintaining their competitiveness, and is a key element in the fight against counterfeiting, of which sports goods manufacturers are too often victims. The Sports Goods Manufacturers Association (SGMA), the professional association of the industry’s leading sports and fitness brands, estimated that, in the United States alone, the retail value of counterfeit sports goods seized by customs and law enforcement authorities in 2010 was around US$1.4 billion.
While patents and design rights are very important in protecting cutting-edge technologies with high consumer appeal, sporting goods companies make a living from the brands on which their brand identity is based. In today’s business environment, it is essential to be able to obtain brand protection quickly and effectively in multiple markets. WIPO’s international trademark registration services can be particularly useful in this regard. They offer sports businesses, large and small, a quick, easy and affordable way to register their trademarks in a number of countries. This, of course, is only a first, essential step in creating the value of a brand and in gaining recognition for it.
In its 40 years of existence, Nike’s iconic whistle has caught the imagination of consumers and has become one of the world’s best-known sports brands, enjoying near universal appeal, with 97% global recognition. This simple and memorable brand, valued by Interbrand at some $14.528 billion in 2011, contributes significantly to the company’s image, value and results.
They can help competitive athletes reach their full potential, inspiring new generations to participate. They also make community-based sport a more comfortable, fun and rewarding experience. As global interest in sport grows, the business relationships that characterise the industry will become more complex. Strategic and effective management of IP assets is a key factor in establishing successful intra-sectoral cooperation and fair trade.
However, the sporting goods industry and its representatives believe that the visibility of their logos at these events is deserved and should not be limited, especially given the significant investments the industry continues to make – both in kind and particularly in support of sports federations, clubs and the athletes themselves. Without the industry’s continued investment in the development of better products, the attractiveness of top-level sporting events would diminish, and consumers in general would no longer benefit from innovative benchmark developments, mainly in the field of continuous product improvement.
A key advantage enjoyed by sports brands at major sporting events is the fact that, unlike other official sponsors, they are at the centre of the action. At these high-profile events, all eyes are on the athletes wearing or using branded equipment. Some brands try to raise their profile even further, for example by using bright colours – such as the bright yellow of Nike’s Volt collection – that stand out from the colours of a team. However, this practice is not always well regarded by major sports event organizers and rights holders.
This free exhibition does not seem appropriate, given the large sums paid by official sponsors – an estimated US$1 billion for the London 2012 Olympics alone – to be associated with high-profile sporting events. Some sports governing bodies regularly seek to limit this exposure, for example by reducing the size and visibility of logos on sports clothing and equipment. An effort is also made to temporarily suspend advertising campaigns involving elite athletes before, during and shortly after a major sporting event, even if such advertising is unrelated to the event.
To enjoy good health it is necessary to incorporate physical exercise into our daily lives. It is necessary to get the right physical activity to practice, since each one has its benefits and disadvantages. Most sports help us to lose weight, prevent illness or control stress levels. It also helps to improve our self-esteem and sexual performance. Here are the 10 best sports for health and their characteristics.
This is a demanding discipline in terms of muscle strength and flexibility. Half an hour of this sport will burn about 300 calories. There is no need to go out in the water, as most gyms have rowing machines.
It is considered one of the most complete exercises for health. With 30 minutes we will burn 517 calories and work the whole body in a complete way. We will manage to increase the resistance of the body and the flexibility of the abdomen.
It’s one of the best known sports. It requires teamwork and sometimes concentration. It will help us to exercise our whole body and among other things it will manage to increase resistance, strength and muscle flexibility, among other things. During the 90 minutes that the game lasts it will demand us to be in constant movement.
Listed by some as the most complete activity. It strengthens the bones and provides resistance, flexibility and strength. Before starting to swim it would be interesting to learn the technique. You will burn 350 calories in half an hour.
The body is kept in constant motion and most of the muscles are exercised. You have to be careful with muscle injuries.
A half hour on the bike burns 430 calories. You have to be very careful because it is also considered a dangerous activity because of the large number of falls.
It provides health benefits to the bones, muscles and cardiorespiratory system. It is a team sport, where in half an hour of play, 300 calories are consumed. Muscular discomfort is also quite common.
The proper practice of this exercise will allow the muscles to gain in resistance and strength, more than in any other sport, especially with regard to the muscles of the arms, legs and buttocks. Keep in mind that you spend all your time running and jumping.
One of the best sports that can be practiced for cardiovascular health and the respiratory system. Half an hour of exercise burns 430 calories.
30 minutes of this sport consumes about 300 calories. It will also force you to stay in constant motion to defend yourself from opponent’s attacks.