Sometimes, in the sport world, reputational damage is irreparable

Date: 09 Jun 2016

Bumblebee Design

Joshua Rubenstein, National Head of Trusts & Estates of Katten Muchin Rosenman, also talks about how US sport stars protect their image rights.


Following the Jose Mourinho IP case, how do US sports stars protect their image rights? 

Unlike in the UK, the US athletes trademark their name and likeness, then grant license agreements of limited duration, so that the ability to control the use of their name and likeness always reverts to them as they change teams or sponsors.

To keep sponsors, in the case of scandals, how do sports stars repair reputations? 

Sometimes reputational damage is irreparable. Mea culpa or acknowledging fault can help. The exception seems to be for Hollywood stars, who can survive almost any scandal, and for whom scandals can almost be regarded as proof of their offbeat creative genius.  Athletes turned Hollywood stars can get second and third chances.

What sports attracts the biggest investments from UHNWs in the US?

In the US, almost all professional baseball, football and basketball teams are owned by UHNWs. Those sports have tremendous cachet and market value. Horse racing and race car driving are similarly controlled by UHNWs.

What sports do your UHNW clients play? 

It varies all over the lot and can include more accessible sports such as golf and tennis, but typically more rarefied sports such as polo, sailing and hunting.

What trends do you see in the sports sector?

With the rising costs and risks involved in professional sports, ownership is increasingly becoming syndicated among groups of UHNWs. Another thing is that with a few venerable exceptions, the value of a sports franchise is dependent upon winning. Some UHNWs can be tight with a dollar. Sport is a classic example of “you get what you pay for” and you have to spend money to make money.

This article was published in Citywealth Weekly, our mid-week roundup of topical news and exclusive expert comments. Sign up here to start receiving the Weekly in your inbox.