The luck of the Irish does not appear to currently be with mixed martial artist and boxer Conor McGregor in his quest to build his personal brand. Not (just) one, two, or seven, but eight separate trademark disputes (as of last count) have erupted as a result of his attempts to register various words and phrases associated with him.
Perhaps most galling, his application to register “Conor McGregor” is being opposed in the E.U. by a Dutch fashion company that already holds the trademark “McGregor” for clothing and accessories. Faring no better is his nickname, “The Notorious,” with that application receiving an opposition at the E.U. trademark office from the owners of the trademark “Notorious Fightwear,” in addition to resistance from the owner of Carlow Brewing, which had already filed for “Notorious” for alcohol.
Along the way, McGregor’s application for “I Am Boxing” was opposed by Migros-Genossenschafts-Bund, owner of “I Am” cosmetics and personal care items, after which he filed to register the mark “ChampChamp” with the EU IPO—and quickly ran afoul of both Champion Sports and the Champ brand of footwear.
What’s a UFC lightweight champion and former featherweight champion with an entrepreneurial streak to do? Brand and trademark are not the same thing, but you are unlikely to have a successful brand without a collection of trademarks supporting it—as McGregor must surely be learning (the hard way).
While his legal team no doubt has matters in hand, we are reminded of the old adage: “Trademarks—no one ever said it was going to be easy.”
—Jerome McDonnell is Interbrand Group Trademark Director