Henry Cuthbert writes for Law in Sport on Usain Bolt's move to trademark his legendary victory celebration
All of us who watched the 2008 Beijing Olympics will remember a few standout snapshots of Usain Bolt’s 100m final: a cheeky turn to see the abyss opening up between him and his fellow finalists; his outstretched arms and slap to the chest before crossing the finish line; the 9.69s on the speed-o-meter; and, of course, his famous victory celebration pose (often referenced as the “Lightning Bolt”). Whilst most people will have the image of this celebratory pose etched in their minds, the following description should help to jog (/sprint) anyone’s memory:
“The silhouette of a man in a distinctive pose, with one arm bent and pointing to the head, and the other arm raised and pointing upward.”
Whilst this is not quite poetry, it is in fact the “Description of Mark” attached to Bolt’s application to register his famous celebration pose with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The application was filed on 17 August 2022 under the legal basis of “intent to use” (section 1(b) Trademark Act 1946 (TA)), commonly referred to as the Lanham Act, and ownership of foreign registrations, namely his Jamaican registrations for the mark (section 44(e) TA). This is not the first time that he has filed for protection in the US, with his first filing made almost 12 years ago (which has since lapsed under US law as Bolt could not show that he had, in a trademark sense, actually used the mark). The UK’s Intellectual Property Office (IPO) approved Bolt’s application back in 2009 and it remains on the register.
His recent attempt to re-register the trademark in the US begs the question: why is Bolt so keen to trademark this image?
In an article for Law in Sport, Henry Cuthbert, Associate explores the answers, looking at:
- What does Bolt intend to use his stylised mark for?
- Why would Bolt want the mark registered?
- Considerations of distinctiveness when registering a celebration as a trademark (UK vs. USA)
- Have other athletes trademarked their celebrations?
- Practical tips for athletes
Read the full article here (subscription required).