Sports franchise owners might not be doing enough to protect their brand. As the interest in sports grows globally, threats to trademarks are increasing and copy-cat merchandising programs continue. But property owners are also facing new threats  like “online brand hijacking.” How big is this problem?

Property owners list the following threats as their top concerns that threaten their brands:

  • Ambush marketing by competitors 41%
  • Counterfeiting 29%
  • Poorly behaved athletes 27%
  • Online brand hijacking 26%

Once a brand’s reputation erodes, gaining it back can be costly and time consuming. And a brand with a tarnished reputation may fail to attract marketers interested in sponsorships. Currently, a sizeable percentage (23%) of sports franchise owners hire outside intelligence to identify intellectual property (IP) infringements. And about 20% prosecute counterfeiters.

But  Frederick Felman, chief marketing officer of MarkMonitor, believes sports franchise owners must do more to protect themselves in this global and digital age, especially when the threat of online brand hijacking looms. Felman says, “Digital media is a double edged sword for sports properties.” Just over half of surveyed owners are tracking what’s being said about their brand online. Another 23% are developing an online strategy while the remaining 25% have not yet engaged with the best way to protect their brands in the digital universe.

As more sports entertainment programming streams through the Internet and consumers spend more time online, franchise owners will need to increase their efforts to protect their brands online.
[Source: New Report on Foul Play in Sports Marketing Highlights Need for More Proactive Brand Protection and Property Rights Management. CMOCouncil. 27 Sept. Web. 4 Oct. 2010]