World football is steeped in history, tradition, and culture unlike that of any other sport. Tradition is why West Ham fans are forever blowing bubbles and Liverpool supporters never walk alone. Part of that great tradition is a club's crest, passed down across decades and forever affixed upon the team's shirts amidst ever-changing kit sponsors. And while there are countless great and unique crests across the world, one team's design has landed it in a tussle with the Caped Crusader.
DC Comics have filed a complaint with the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market, the EU's version of the US Patent and Trademark Office, over a trademark filing from Spanish football club Valencia CF. The La Liga team had filed a trademark on a new version of the bat featured on its badge with wings outstretched. DC contends that the outstretched version of the bat bears too much of a resemblance to the classic logo of Batman (respective logos can be seen here). Both parties claim to have been using the bat logo for some time: Batman first appeared in Detective Comics in 1939, while Valencia first used a bat on their badge in 1919. And while DC may take issue with the newest version of Valencia's bat, the Dark Knight Detective is no stranger to new looks.
Intellectual property concerns are nothing new to the world of football. In 2011, London-based football giants Arsenal F.C. forced a Spanish woman to change the name of her clothing store Arsenale, claiming it infringed upon their trademark (Football fans cite this as the last time Arsenal mounted a defense). And The Atlantic has profiled the rampant online piracy of matches that has damaged the bottom lines of some of the world's biggest leagues.
Whether your passion is football, Batman, or your business, you need to be vigilant to ensure your brand is protected. While you may not have a bat as part of your logo (or maybe you do - no judgment), there are other elements of your brand that are at risk of being misappropriated by others. Be sure to seek the proper protection for your marks, as well as keep a watchful eye towards the internet.