As a dedicated follower of both football and IP, I was intrigued by yesterday's reports that a deal between Man United and Mourinho was being held up over "image rights" owned by Chelsea.
This merited further investigation. It turns out that Chelsea have an extensive portfolio of some 175 live trade marks. These include FERNANDO TORRES and TORRES (but not COSTA or HAZARD), ABRAMOVICH, CHELSKI, and ANCELOTTI (but not HIDDINK).
There are also 7 trade marks for JOSE MOURINHO or MOURINHO. These include one of his signature, and 6 word marks. Despite the references in the media to image rights, there are no likenesses of Jose Mourinho registered as trade marks by Chelsea (although they may have freestanding contractual rights to the same).
The 7 Mourinho marks cover a wide range of goods, including after-shave, bleach, perfumes, cosmetics, windscreen cleaning liquids, scientific equipment, fire extinguishers, computers and vehicle breakdown warning apparatus, as well as items of clothing and sports goods.
The Chelsea shop currently seems to be selling 7 items of Mourinho merchandise, namely books, a mug, a poster, a phone cover, and 2 novelty figurines.
Chelsea certainly seem a lot more possessive of their former manager than other football clubs are of their current or former coaches.
My beloved Arsenal have not registered ARSENE WENGER as a trade mark, and neither have their disgruntled fans registered ARSENE OUT. ALEX FERGUSON, on the other hand, is a registered trade mark, but it is owned by Sir Alex not Man U.
There must be serious question marks about the extent to which Chelsea's MOURINHO trade marks are to a greater or lesser extent susceptible to revocation, either on the grounds that they are deceptive as to trade origin (given that Mourinho is no longer associated with the club) or for non-use of the more outlandish goods mentioned above.
However, a challenge to the marks would take some time, and it is quite possible Mourinho might have left Man U before any such dispute could be resolved. So clearly it makes sense for Man U to negotiate with Chelsea now for assignment of their marks, so that they can fully exploit what is undoubtedly a special brand.
Just don't expect Mourinho fire extinguishers to be on sale any time soon.