Manchester United’s move to appoint Jose Mourinho has suffered a setback since Chelsea still own the copyright to his name.
It is understood that United may need to pay a six-figure sum for the rights to the Portuguese tactician’s name and signature, which Chelsea registered as a European trademark in 2005 in order to sell merchandise.
According to Mills & Reeve sports lawyer Carol Couse, the fact that Mourinho doesn’t own the trademark to their own name is “really unusual”.
“Chelsea could be earning revenue every time someone uses Mourinho’s name. It could prevent United from exploiting his signature,” she told BBC Sport. “One of the things United will be looking to acquire is not only Mourinho’s image but also his name.
“If United had a brand of Mourinho clothing it would be in breach of the trademark Chelsea currently own.”
While United have a few options to work around the problem, including paying Chelsea for a license to use Mourinho’s name or asking the 53-year-old to buy his trademark back from the Blues, Couse admitted that it would cost the Red Devils a lot of money either way.
“That would be pretty costly,” Couse said. “Look at the value of the deals that have been done for Mourinho to date. What would be the value of a Jose Mourinho watch?
“He has managed Inter and Real since then. They have either acquired the rights from Chelsea or managed the use of his name.
“If Chelsea didn’t grant a licence, every time United used Jose Mourinho’s name in a commercial capacity against those products, Chelsea could sue Manchester United. I would suspect United would rather just pay a licence fee.”
A license fee, according to Couse, is expected to cost United “hundreds of thousands of pounds”.
Despite the issue, Mourinho is all set to succeed Louis van Gaal as the Red Devils’ new manager. United parted ways with Van Gaal after a mediocre season, where they finished fifth on the Premier League standings, but won the FA Cup.
Couse also feels that the trademark debacle will not impact negotiations between United and Mourinho.
“I don’t think that in itself would hold up any negotiation,” Couse said. “A lot of world-class players go to Manchester United with their own personal deals. Mourinho’s deals will be in a personal capacity.”