A good example of the power of IP is the Tour de France – which many readers no doubt follow during July each year. Innovation constantly leads to changes to the bicycle frames, saddles and bikes and is also evident in the clothing, nutrition, health monitoring and timekeeping. Recent inventions in professional cycles include wireless connections between the gear shifters and derailleurs (removing the need for cables) and tubeless tyres.
Many of these inventions are likely to be patentable, but design rights can also be important in protecting new designs of bike parts, helmets and other equipment. Indeed, a February 2023 judgment of the EU Court of Justice concerned the validity of a design for a bicycle saddle owned by German cycling products company Monz. In this case, the Court ruled that the ‘visibility’ requirement for component parts of complex products must be assessed in the light of the ‘normal use’ of that complex product.
The Tour de France is a very valuable brand (owned by Amaury Sport Organisation or AMO) itself and there are EUTM registrations for LE TOUR DE FRANCE and TOUR DE FRANCE , as well as for key brand assets such as MAILLOT JAUNE (the famous yellow jersey owned by the Tour’s classification leader). Cycling brands too take steps to protect their IP rights, warning consumers about the risks of counterfeits and advising on how to identify them.
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