Glasgow 2014

Glasgow 2014 intellectual property

Sometimes, it's all about the image. Clyde the Thistle, symbol of Glasgow 2014. The Glasgow 2014 brand. Live TV coverage broadcast around the world.

A great games requires great athletes and great venues, but some of the most important elements of a successful international sports event are things you can't touch. Intellectual property and technology played a crucial role in bringing everything together and making the Commonwealth Games the phenomenal success they were, and we were at the heart of them.

In any other circumstances, trying to get rid of 50,000 thistles would be a thorny issue.

Glasgow 2014, on the other hand, couldn't get enough of them. By the end of the Games cuddly toy versions of Clyde the Thistle, the Games mascot, had sold out – around 50,000 of them – raising almost £700,000 in revenue.

Selling cuddly toys, what could that possibly have to do with lawyers.

Well, for a start, we had to ensure that Clyde could wear the Saltire on his breast. The Saltire is effectively an armorial bearing subject to the laws relating to coats of arms and armorial bearings and governed by a 16th century charter of novodamus (and which not surprisingly didn't provide specifically for its use on six foot tall walking thistles). When you are dealing with intellectual property, nothing can be left to chance.

Almost every type of intellectual property imaginable, from trademarks to designs and so much more besides, existed as part of Glasgow 2014, and it was our job to help the OC's brand protection team ensure that they could maximise the value of its prime assets. Our brand protection and enforcement role took us through the UK, Europe, the Indian sub-continent and Australasia.

What we did


Merchandising is a key component of a Games' budget. At Glasgow 2014, sales of official merchandise exceeded expectations, and Clyde the Thistle led the way. T-shirts, pin badges, key rings, beach towels and more flew off the shelves making a huge contribution to the Games budget.

We advised on the master licensee deal, essential for the Glasgow 2014 merchandise which was sold around the country and beyond. One of our lawyers, who negotiated and concluded the master licensee deal, recalls how it felt to see the results of the contract hit the shelves. "Seeing all the merchandise appear in OC shops and in retailers, I got a huge sense of satisfaction that I directly contributed to making that happen."

We also advised the OC on how to protect their rights against counterfeit merchandise, in the process ensuring that those who bought a little piece of the Games for posterity were getting the genuine article.


There are 7 billion people in the world today, give or take few. Around 1.5 billion of those tuned into to the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games on television. An incredible amount of work went on behind the scenes to ensure that Hampden Park appeared when they switched on their TV set. The foundation for it all was the Host Broadcaster contract – the largest contract that Glasgow 2014 awarded. Our specialists advised Glasgow 2014 on this crucial contract, which was awarded to international sports broadcast experts Sunset+Vine and Global Television. They were on the ground with cameras producing the feeds that went to the International Broadcasting Centre, then on around the world. We also advised on regional rights holder agreements for the various Commonwealth territories for the Games to be broadcast to billions worldwide.

We provided end to end service in terms of coverage, ensuring that we improvised a framework so that the organisers and broadcasters delivered high quality production standards and sufficient coverage to meet worldwide demands.

It was crucial to have the Host Broadcaster agreement in place sooner rather than later. It was a keystone element on the commercial side, providing something tangible that the OC could take to sponsors.

The broadcast rights for the XX Commonwealth Games were one of the key revenue generating assets of the Games both in the direct sense of broadcast rights fees and indirectly as a driver of sponsorship values. Preventing unauthorised exploitation of broadcast coverage was essential to the maintenance of broadcast value and consequently to sponsorship value. We advised Glasgow 2014 in relation to its anti piracy strategy and the range of practical and technical solutions that it implemented throughout the world.


Sponsorship is an essential source of funding for any major sports event. Without it, events such as Glasgow 2014 just wouldn't happen. Brands pay for commercial rights and to protect that investment, and the future of the Games, these must also be protected.

We advised on the procurement of contracts and related sponsorship agreements for a wide range of deals for Glasgow 2014, dealing with major global brands including Emirates, Virgin Media, BP, Ford, Longines and SSE.

Street trading and advertising

We advised Glasgow 2014 on their contribution to the proposed regulations relating to outdoor trading and advertising in and around Games venues during Games time and held a series of Brand Protection Seminars in conjunction with the OC which let businesses know to legally maximise their engagement with the Games. We also provided full time staff to the brand protection team at Games time, to help them make sure the OC's rights were being protected.

Domain names

Geneva is a nice city. But you wouldn't think it would have much to do with the Commonwealth Games (last time we looked, Switzerland wasn't a member). But it was by the lake that one of the earliest victories of Glasgow 2014 was won.

No sooner did it appear that Glasgow may win the rights to host the Commonwealth Games in 2014 than the brand became something to protect, no easy task in a digital age.

We successfully forced the transfer of a domain name for Glasgow 2014 Limited under the dispute resolution policy implemented by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Numbers and Names, through proceedings raised at the World Intellectual Property Organization in Geneva. It set the benchmark, and we went on to win a few more transfers.

Queen's Baton Relay

We advised on the legal issues surrounding the development of the Queen's Baton, used for the symbolic Queen's Baton Relay around all 71 Commonwealth countries, which carried within it the message that the Queen read out during the Opening Ceremony. We also advised on the contractual arrangements for the QBR launch party at Buckingham Palace. In fact, our lawyers were involved every step of the way (and some of them even took part in the relay itself).


We advised on the ticketing agreement, which saw Ticketmaster provide over 1 million tickets for spectators.

Data protection

With thousands of employees and athletes, not to mention one million coming to watch events live, from all around the Commonwealth, a host of information was gathered. Ticketing, transport, security– there was a whole lot of data. Even the Queen had to pick up her accreditation pass ahead of the event (could someone not have shown her how to open the Baton at the same time – keeping her message locked away would have been taking Data Protection a bit too far).

We advised the OC on all Data Protection issues, using our experience of complex data protection matters involving an international element and within a commercial context.

From entering into data processing agreements to post Games legacy data drotection issues, and from preparing ticketing privacy policy and ticketing terms and conditions to advising in relation to the Data Protection issues arising as part of the entry, accreditation and eligibility processes for athletes.

There was a lot of sensitive data in Glasgow 2014's hands, and we helped them keep it that way.

Opening and closing ceremonies

We advised on the agreement between the OC and the ceremonies provider. We also advised on the use of music at the Games, including performer consents, main artist agreements interaction with the PRS and licensing.

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