Intellectual property and the European Football Championships

In 2024, a European Football Championship will be held in Germany for the first time in 36 years. Around such an event, there is likely to be a substantial number of infringements of intellectual property rights.

First and foremost, trademark protection will play an extremely important role. The Union of European Football Assocaitons (UEFA) has, for example, filed numerous trademarks in connection with the European Championship, such as:

(EUTM 017929120)


 (EUTM 018040798)

as well as the word mark “UEFA EURO 2024” (EUTM 018571341). These trademarks are protected for all goods and services, meaning that anyone who sells goods and services using these signs without UEFA’s permission risks being accused of trademark infringement. A court case can result in high claims for damages.

Furthermore, the image of the European Championship trophy and the official European Championship mascot, for example, are also protected under trademark and design law.

However, the term “EURO 2024 Germany” without the addition “UEFA” is not protected. UEFA had tried to apply for a trademark in this regard, but the Trademark Office did not see a sufficient degree of distinctiveness and therefore did not allow registration of this trademark. In the view of the Trademark Office, this term was merely descriptive of the fact that it was applied to merchandising articles for the 2024 European Championship.

Of course, not only UEFA, but also the suppliers of sports equipment, the national teams and their sponsors have an extensive brand portfolio. A counterfeit jersey can therefore infringe the trademark rights of several trademark owners at the same time.

In addition to trademarks, numerous designs have also been registered in connection with the European Championships. These include the mascots and the European Championship ball.

Patents can also play a role, for example with regard to footballs or other sporting goods. However, copying patented technology is usually more complex than a simple trademark infringement. Shortly before the start of EURO 2024, the Unified Patent Court (UPC) local division in Hamburg ruled, in a preliminary injunction. that the technology for the video assistant at EURO 2024 may be used by UEFA and the product developer Kinexon (Ref. ACT_16267/2024). The claimant was the Dutch company Ballino, which claimed that use of the Kinexon technology was an infringement of its patent rights.

Copyright law is also important. If no intellectual property right has been registered, copyright protection may still exist. Copyright is particularly important in the media sector with regard to the broadcasting rights to European Championship football matches, which account for a large proportion of the organizers’ income.

Almost the entire range of intellectual property rights is therefore important and holders of the IP rights should take the precautions to prevent infringements as far as possible. In particular, it is advisable to be present in the vicinity of the stadiums in order to be able to identify and take action against infringements of IP rights around the statdium. Of course, it should be ensured in advance that all relevant trademarks, designs and patents are protected.

Furthermore, filing request for border seizures of counterfeit goods can also be a suitable means of preventing infringements of IP rights..

On the other hand, suppliers of merchandising articles need to familiarize themselves with exactly what products and in which form they may and may not offer.

As a law firm, we are happy to advise you on all issues in the field of intellectual property rights and support you in the enforcement and defense of your intellectual property rights.