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Jose Mourinho - The Special One!

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Negotiations are continuing between Chelsea and Manchester United to appoint Jose Mourinho as their manager, which include a dispute over the trademark in his name.  

In 2005 Chelsea registered both the name ‘Jose Mourinho’ and his signature as a European trademark for use in a number of classes of products.  This meant they were able to use his name to sell all kinds of items such as toiletries, technology, clothing and jewellery.  Unless they assign this right, Manchester United will not be able to do the same without infringing the trademark and opening themselves to having to defend a legal action.    

There are ways to get round this problem.  United could simply avoid using Mourinho’s name for certain merchandise, however, the list of items that Chelsea have registered is exhaustive and ranges from umbrellas to watch straps to talcum powder and lingerie.  This would require very careful management of the use of his name and therefore in practice is unlikely to be attractive.  Alternatively, Chelsea could grant United a licence to use the name whilst retaining ownership.  This is likely to be extremely costly for United, although they may consider it a worthwhile investment given the alternatives.  United could also challenge Chelsea if they were able to prove that the trademark is no longer being used by them.  

Since the trademark was registered by Chelsea, Mourinho has managed both Inter Milan and Real Madrid.  This would suggest that these clubs managed to find a way to work with Mourinho which did not infringe the rights owned by Chelsea. Hopefully Manchester United can do the same.