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Intellectual property and sport


The four modules of this course cover how intellectual property fits into sports branding, the sports market as well as the relationships between sponsors and sport, marketing and sport and other interrelated areas. Some of the restrictions on sponsorship are also covered such as the move in recent years to try to stop sponsorship by tobacco or alcohol companies. The concept of ambush marketing – a relatively new term – is also explored in detail, as well as some specific instances that put ambush marketing in context and laws put in place to prevent ambush marketing.  Areas like ticketing regulations, broadcasting – including more detailed studies of jurisdictions where there are specific broadcasting rights and also counterfeiting and parallel trade regulations in relation to sport are also covered in depth.

Module A: Branding in sports


  • Introduction to sporting brands
  • Trade mark protection for sports events and sports stars
  • Using copyright to protect imagery and sounds in sport
  • Using design rights to protect images, mascots and brands
  • Passing off and endorsement of events and stars
  • Sports celebrities image rights

Module B Sponsorship in sports


  • The sponsorship market in sport
  • The different types of sponsorship available
  • The sorts of rights granted in sponsorship agreements
  • The responsibilities of both sponsors and the sponsored party
  • The sponsorship contract

Module C Ambush marketing


  • Introduction to ambush marketing
  • Protection of special event symbols (for example, the Olympics)
  • Anti-ambush marketing laws
  • The use of domain names to ambush an event
  • The internationalisation of ambush marketing norms
  • Preventing ambush marketing: the toolkit

Module D: Special topics in sports


  • Broadcasting rights
  • Ticketing restrictions
  • Advertising laws and sports branding
  • Counterfeiting and merchandising


Each module is assessed by a 45-minute unseen written exam.


It is strongly recommended you attempt Modules A and B before C and D.

How to apply

You can apply to study a module individually as a standalone unit or as part of a Postgraduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma or Master of Laws qualification. (In either scenario, they must be studied in order.)

These modules also contribute towards the following specialist pathways for Laws:

  • Commercial and Corporate Law
  • Common Law
  • Intellectual Property Law
  • International Business Law
  • International Intellectual Property Law
  • Media Law
  • Sports Law

Apply via Postgraduate Laws.

Study Material

Academic Co-ordinator

Professor Phillip Johnson

Professor Phillip Johnson

Phillip Johnson is the Professor of Commercial Law at Cardiff Law School. His main area of interest is intellectual property law, but he additionally has interests in sports and entertainment law, private international law and UK and EU public law.

He is a practising barrister at the Intellectual Property Bar, and a member of the Irish Bar, the Californian Bar and the Washington DC Bar. He is a Member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, the American Bar Association as well as the Intellectual Property Bar Association. As an Appointed Person (tribunal judge), he hears appeals from the Intellectual Property Office on trade marks and design disputes.

He has consulted to the UK Intellectual Property Office, the World Intellectual Property Organisation, foreign governments, as well as industry, and he has given expert evidence in foreign proceedings.

As a practising barrister, he has advised well-known fashion brands, pharmaceutical and agriculture companies, broadcasters and publishers as well as national newspapers and celebrity magazines.