IPRs in the Cricketing World

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It is said that Cricket is a gentleman’s game – for all the iconic moments it has provided to its fans over so many years. In India, Cricket is, however, more than just a sport – it is a pure emotion, a sheer one !

The last decade has seen an enormous growth in Cricketers endorsing various brands and companies and even commentators (with their signature voices) commanding the game. The 2019 Intellectual Property Day was celebrated with the theme of “Reach for Gold: IP and Sports” and the modern-day game of cricket, being an ever-growing global spectacle, is relevant to every society. Today, Cricket is a culmination of sports, games, entertainment, commercial business, and culture.

Fig. The registered IPL logo

According to a report in Insidesport, the IPL franchises have spent a total of INR 6144 crore across 14 seasons. According to the BCCI, the 2015 IPL season alone contributed a whopping ₹1,150 crore (US$150 million) to the GDP of the Indian economy. With such an enormous financial impetus, the protection of intangible assets vis-à-vis Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) has been an important aspect of the Cricket Industry. Each kind of Intellectual Property (IP) – trademarks, copyright, industrial designs, or patents, form an integral part of the cricket industry.

Patents boost technological advancements that result in better sporting gear. Trademarks and industrial designs contribute to the distinct identity of events, logos, sportspersons, teams, and their equipment. Copyright generates the revenues needed for broadcasters to invest in the expensive task of broadcasting the sports’ events to fans internationally. Sports franchisees like the BBL, the 100, the County Championship, the CPL, etc. around the world are tapping into and capitalizing upon various IPRs created by the sport. It is then utilized as advertising, merchandising, licensing, etc. for generating brand equity and reputation, in turn, making large profits. There are instances from sports teams to even individuals who have started making their brands, logos, and taglines, which are trademarked and used commercially to obtain benefits. The commercial quotient in sports has skyrocketed significantly in the past few years.

Fig. One8 commune restaurant jointly owned by Virat Kohli and PUMA

Following are the relevant IPRs with respect to the Cricket Industry :-


Cricket equipment, umpiring systems, etc. can all be protected through suitable patent protection to ensure that the underlying technology is adequately protected. Right from the Mongoose Bat (Application number – WO2009144491), the cricket ball that maintains its properties even in the rain (Application number – US1624822), till the cricket pitch that makes it impossible to bowl bouncers (Application number – 1009/DEL/2003), there are many inventions related to the very equipment being used in the game.

Fig. The mongoose bat as described in the Patent Application number - WO2009144491

Apart from these, there are a plethora of technological advancements in the system as well with examples like Cricket wicket monitoring system (Application number – WO03033081), LED cricket bails and stumps (Application number – NZ625544 (A)), etc.


There are various provisions laid down in the Copyrights Act, 1957 which allow for the protection of several components of the cricketing events such as the artwork which is associated with the logo, slogan, trademark, etc. Copyright is an original literary work. The person who creates such work is the owner of that work until that work is licensed. For instance in case of IPL, copyright can be applied to website layout designs and the team uniforms. There are bids each year to assign the right to broadcast the matches. STAR India currently holds the right to broadcast the IPL matches by winning the bid for ₹16347.5 Cr under a five year contract beginning from 2018, earlier the rights were with Sony Pictures and World Sport Group as a partnership. Surprisingly, a recent analysis suggests that some of the IP Experts are of the opinion that cricketing shots can also fall under the copyright law.


The application of Indian Trademark Act, 1999 is used to provide protection to the name, logo and the brand of the sports, sports equipment etc. For instance, all the major franchises in world cricket have their names and brands protected by trademarks. These trademarks are distributed with exclusive caps, jerseys, laptop skins, coffee mugs, mobile covers and various types of merchandise.

Fig. The IPL teams and their trademarks

The brand value of a team name (for example the Perth Scorchers), sports clubs (for example the Surrey Cricket club), player (for example Lasith Malinga) and merchandise (for example bats signed by VVS Lakshman) create a degree of association with the public at large (especially fans), which eventually helps in gaining popularity of any team, player, etc. Further, in India, the personality rights and domain names are under the purview of the Trademark Act, 1999.


Trademarks are underrated in terms of their potential benefits in the Cricketing World. It is trade secret which forms part of all the secret strategies of teams to win or secret compounds in their gears to make playing easy and winnable or any other dietary ingredient. It is not be disclosed to the public unlike patent rights. Generally other teams might try to steal these assets but they are to be necessarily protected so that no other team or player can gain undue advantage on the same.

Fig. Jasprit Bumrah talent search by Mumbai Indians by their specialized protocol

For instance, the Mumbai Indians IPL Franchise follows a particular ‘secret’ strategy and protocol to discover the talent of uncapped players from different parts of India and globally. Jasprit Bumrah, the Pandya brothers, Marco Jansen, etc. are all the outcome of such a talent hunt strategy.


Design rights are used to protect only the aesthetic beauty of a cricketing product and cannot include anything technical or anything attributing to the functions of the products. Teams or sports events use beautiful designs for products to be used in the game like bats, balls and other goods to attract the viewer attention. It is highly creative in nature and it aims to enhance the appearance of the goods to be used so that if someone buys the product later they can associate it with the design of the team or the player. For instance, the “StemGuard” is a high strength clip-on piece that can be attached to the back of an existing Masuri Vision Series helmet.

In a nutshell, with the rapidly increasing popularity and fan-following in the Cricketing Industry, it is important to understand and develop a commercial system to harness the benefits arising out of the Intellectual Property created in the industry. This will not only ensure the wellness of the athletes and the support staff, but also provide opportunities for gaining monetary benefits in a relatively unexplored domain.