The Melbourne Cup + Who owns Racehorse Trademarks?

The first Tuesday in November in Melbourne means only one thing: The Melbourne Cup.  Run by the Victoria Racing Club, the Melbourne Cup has been held since 1861 and is witnessed by over 100,000 spectators at Flemington racecourse and millions on TV in Australia and around the world.

Not surprisingly, the race that stops a nation has a number of trademarks registered including the cup itself (in the form of a shape trademark) as well as the overall carnival: The Spring Racing Carnival.

Intellectual Property and Racehorses

As you might expect, many of the horses racing in the Spring Racing Carnival have themselves become well known and owners have in the past sought to protect the intellectual property associated with the horse (typically in the form of trademarks).

For example, the owners of three time consecutive Melbourne Cup winner Makybe Diva have registered a trademark in respect of 20 odd classes of goods/services.   Other Aussie thoroughbreads registered include Weekend Hussler and Black Caviar (and even the pattern of the silks worn by jockey Luke Nolen – salmon colour with black dots).

However, the days of racehorse owners filing for their own trademarks for racehorses are over.  As of 1 October 2012, Racing Information Services Australia (the Registrar of Racehorses) owns all right title or interest in the name image, jockey silks and any other indicia associated with the horse (Rule 181Aof the Australian Rules of Racing) .

Effectively this stops owners from filing their own trademarks – rather, the trademarks may be filed (and owned) by the Registrar of Racehorses who may grant permission to license the trademark to the racehorse owner.

This situation is not unusual in sport – for example in Australia, trademark ownership in the sports of Australian Rules Football and Australian Rugby League are all controlled by the body that runs the sport.

The Melbourne Cup takes place on Tuesday the 6th November at approximately 3pm.  See the field of 24 horses here.

Our tips:

1.  Dunaden for back to back Melbourne Cup wins.

2. Americain

3. Mount Athos

Roughie: Winchester

Good luck!