I took my family to the Arsenal-Manchester United game in Manchester:
Before the game, we went to the Man Utd megastore in the stadium:
I bought my wife a Man Utd red devil hat because it was so cold:
Outside Old Trafford (Man Utd’s stadium) there were vendors selling ‘game day’ scarves:
The vendors stood just outside this sign:
We got this one for my son the Arsenal fan, so that he could covertly root for them (our tickets forbade us from overtly rooting for Arsenal, because we were in a Man Utd section. Serious.):
Let’s take a look at the scarf more closely. Here is the Man Utd side:
First, it uses the word UNITED alone. UNITED is a common term for soccer teams. Also, take a look at that crest:
This is Man Utd’s ‘real’ crest:
The logo has no use of the word MANCHESTER or the Red Devil mascot, and the ship is somewhat different. There is a reference instead to the ‘Red Army’, the fans of Man Utd. Now let’s turn to the Arsenal side of the scarf:
I suppose one would argue that it doesn’t literally depict the word ARSENAL, substituting a cannon for the letter R. Of course a similar looking cannon is part of the present ARSENAL logo, seen here on the right, depicted next to its pre-2002 logo:
Now take a look at the crest from the scarf:
First, you’ll note that the scarf uses a ‘throwback’ capital A, as used in the former ARSENAL logo shown to the left above. Also, the term GOONERS is used. Arsenal team members are the GUNNERS and their fans are the GOONERS. HOWEVER, Arsenal owns a UK registration for GOONER. I wrote a column about trademarks that refer to fans of a sports team, rather than to the sports teams themselves, a while back.
As a parting shot, I note that the scarf depicts the term PREMIERSHIP. The EPL is known now as the BARCLAY’s PREMIER LEAGUE. However it was previously named the Premiership (and is still referred to as such – and Barclay’s (and the FA) own registrations that include the term.
Final tally: at least two reproductions of registered marks or words, and a lot of references to registered marks.
Does the scarf suggest on its face that it is ‘from’ or ‘authorized’ by Man Utd and Arsenal or that it is ‘about’ the game between Man Utd and Arsenal (or both or neither)?
I will leave the UK lawyers to come to conclusions about whether this is infringement under UK law.
I will add the following. Do potential customers think these scarves are ‘authorized’? What did my son think? Well, he was the only thirteen year old who bought the scarf on advice of counsel, so he doesn’t count, but he ordinarily wouldn’t care; he wanted a souvenir that he was there, and the scarf was that. What did the fans think? Well, the sign put paid on that question.
If you’re interested in these issues, a good place to start is Arsenal v Reed.
Let’s not discuss the actual outcome of the game. Let’s just say that Arsenal was Tottenham in disguise.