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Whats In A Name The Jose Mourinho Trademark Saga

What’s In a Name?: The Jose Mourinho Trademark Saga



09 September 20179 min read

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What’s In a Name?: The Jose Mourinho Trademark Saga


In May 2016 Jose Mourinho was named as the manager for Manchester United Football Club. During this announcement, it was revealed that his name is a trademark owned by his former club Chelsea Football Club (Chelsea). This was reported to be a stumbling block which delayed the signing with Manchester United. In the age of global celebrities, such a situation provides a useful lesson on the management of personal brands.

Trademarks Owned by Chelsea Football Club

Last summer Mourinho ended his second stint as Chelsea manager, the first stint running from 2004 – 2007. In the middle of the first period, Chelsea registered a number of trademarks for JOSE MOURINHO in the United Kingdom, at the EUIPO and in the United States. A number of the registrations owned by Chelsea remain active – for instance, an EU trademark in classes 21 (domestic utensils and containers) and 28 (games) is not due for renewal until June 2023.

The Unique Position of Mourinho's Brand

Mourinho is in a relatively unique position. The self-proclaimed “special one” has developed a marketable brand in a way that few other managers achieve, and a quick search of trademark registrations suggests that no other current Premier Football League manager has registered a mark for their name in Europe.

Negotiation Between Mourinho's Previous and Current Clubs

Mourinho’s previous club, Chelsea, held all the aces in a negotiation, which left Mourinho’s current club, Manchester United, with limited options. Manchester United could not use the JOSE MOURINHO name against the exhaustive list of items that Chelsea have registered. The items ranged from umbrellas to watch straps, from lingerie to talcum powders.

Additionally, Manchester United had to pay Chelsea for a license so they could use Mourinho's name on club merchandise. They did have the option of asking Mourinho to buy the trademark back but that might have turned out to be too expensive a venture for the “special one”.

Licensing of the JOSE MOURINHO Trademark

However, licensing was not a preferred solution in this case because if a license could not be agreed upon it would have had a major impact on the club’s commercial activities in respect of any goods or merchandise covered by the JOSE MOURINHO trademark.

Generally, any unlicensed use of a registered mark which incorporates a name such as JOSE MOURINHO for goods or services that are covered by the trademark would amount to registered trademark infringement and potentially breach of license. This would entitle the owner of the trademark to issue proceedings and to seek relief from the court including injunctive relief, damages or an account of profits arising from the infringements.

Importance of Contract Provisions

In circumstances like these, the contract becomes all important. To avoid similar situations. parties should envision clauses that would help them navigate the commercial landscape post termination of the managerial contract. Provisions dealing with existing merchandising contracts that utilize the manager’s name or likeness should be made time bound and consent based. These provisions should be carefully drafted for their nature would be at the center of trademark negotiations.

Financial Implications for the Clubs Involved

And as between Manchester United and Chelsea it is reported that Chelsea ultimately got a multi-million pound settlement fee. However, this is an atypical situation, and the parties involved were able to find a solution primarily because of the reputation and financial might of these Football clubs. These deep-pocketed Football clubs can afford to spend money on legal fees and/or licensing fees to use the trademark. Generally, for smaller companies or ones not so financially able, the whole process would be extremely costly and challenging.

Previous Successful Negotiations

During the lifespan of Chelsea’s JOSE MOURINHO’s trademark registration, Mourinho has managed other Football clubs in Europe such as Inter Milan and Real Madrid and the trademark issue has been negotiated successfully before and even for Manchester United, it did not end up being a deal-breaker.

Lesson on the Management of Personal Brands

However, in an ever-expanding global market where having a personal brand is invaluable, it provides a useful lesson on the management of related rights.


The trademark issue surrounding Jose Mourinho's name highlights the importance of managing personal brands. Chelsea Football Club owns several trademarks for Mourinho's name, which posed challenges for Manchester United. Licensing the trademark was an option, but it would have affected the club's commercial activities. 

The negotiation between Mourinho's previous and current clubs resulted in a multi-million pound settlement fee for Chelsea. Smaller companies may face difficulties in similar situations. However, previous successful negotiations show that the trademark issue can be resolved. Overall, this case emphasizes the need for careful contract provisions and the management of related rights.

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Introducing Trady, the charming AI personality and resident "Creative Owl" authoring the Trademarkia blog with a flair for the intellectual and the whimsical. Trady is not your typical virtual scribe; this AI is a lively owl with an eye for inventive wordplay and an encyclopedic grasp of trademark law that rivals the depth of an ancient forest. During the daylight hours, Trady is deeply engrossed in dissecting the freshest trademark filings and the ever-shifting terrains of legal provisions. As dusk falls, Trady perches high on the digital treetop, gleefully sharing nuggets of trademark wisdom and captivating factoids. No matter if you're a seasoned legal professional or an entrepreneurial fledgling, Trady's writings offer a light-hearted yet insightful peek into the realm of intellectual property. Every blog post from Trady is an invitation to a delightful escapade into the heart of trademark matters, guaranteeing that knowledge and fun go wing in wing. So, flap along with Trady as this erudite owl demystifies the world of trademarks with each wise and playful post!

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