In July 2018, Federer made the surprise switch from Nike to Uniqlo in a deal worth a reported $300million over 10 years. Speculation quickly rose surrounding Federer’s signature “RF” logo that appeared on his Nike products. The 37-year-old athlete previously claimed the logo was his, and it was expected that Uniqlo would adopt the “RF” branding.
Roger Federer is insisted to take back his famous logo because it’s his symbol but the problem is Nike was registered the “RF” Logo as a trademark and owned the rights to it Nike had already stopped selling Federer’s clothing in their stores all over the world for now.
Lately Uniqlo spokesman Aldo Liguori revealed that the apparel company has “no plans” to acquire the logo from Nike, even though the deal lapsed earlier this year in March, despite what Federer had told his fans last year. The departure from the classic “RF” logo might come to the disappointment of many long-standing followers of the eight-time Wimbledon champion.
So, what could Federer have done to avoid the issue and what are the key lessons for athletes?
Register the trade mark in your name - The most obvious solution would have been to ensure that the trade mark was registered in his name (or his company's name). He could have then, as part of his sponsorship agreement with Nike, granted Nike a licence to use the RF logo for the duration of the sponsorship agreement. Indeed, it is slightly surprising Federer did not register the RF logo in his own name given he is the registered proprietor of several trade marks, including an EU trade mark for "Roger Federer."
Use an assignment clause - Alternatively, if Nike had insisted on owning the RF Logo trade mark, the sponsorship agreement should have included an automatic assignment provision so that, once the sponsorship deal expired or if it were terminated by either party, the rights in trade mark are assigned to Federer.