Chelsea to Man. United: You can have the coach, but not his name

It is official, as from today, (27/05/16) José Mourinho is officially Manchester United’s new manager. An announcement such as this would normally call for a celebration for “sealing the deal”, but for the executives responsible for the transfer there is still unsettled issues that need to be pondered and addressed.

Chelsea F.C. still owns Mourinho’s image rights and trademarks. The club invested heavily on the brands since 2005, the date in which the trademark was disclosed. The several trademarks are due to expire in 2023 and 2025, and as such may not be used by any third parties (Manchester United included) for commercial purposes. In short, this means that we may not see any football boots, teddy bears, t-shirts, cosmetics, etc. that bear the manager’s name in any Man. Utd. products.

Mourinho’s three-year contract is rumoured to be between the 30 – 45 million range, however, Manchester United might have to have to drive a harder bargain in order to meet the several millions that Chelsea might be asking for the transfer of the manager’s intellectual property rights. It is also imperative to point out that Man. Utd. possess a diverse portfolio of global sponsors that require a rapid resolution in order exploit and commercialise the manager’s image in its products and services.

So, what are the options available to Man. United and Chelsea in order to settle the trademark issue? One option for Man. United would be to obtain a licence in order to enable it to use the marks. Another option would be for Man. United (or Mourinho himself) to make an offer to Chelsea for a full assignment of the trade marks. It's rather surprising that Mourinho doesn't own the 'Jose Mourinho' mark himself - that would give him the option to licence the rights to his employers (which for a successful manager who frequently changes clubs would be more practical).

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