Intellectual Property Attorney

Owners Of “California Chrome” Prepare To Capitalize On Intellectual Property Rights

On Saturday, June 7, Thoroughbred racehorse “California Chrome” will attempt to win horse racing’s “Triple Crown,” a honor bestowed on a horse that wins the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes. So difficult is this feat that the last horse to win all three races, “Affirmed,” did so 36 years ago. The rags to riches story of California Chrome’s modern-day cowboy owners has captivated the country. They reportedly bought a mare named “Love the Chase” for $8,000 for breeding purposes in 2009. Her first foal, California Chrome, has already earned more than $3 million in prize money on the track. Moreover, the owners reportedly turned down a recent offer of $6 million to buy the colt. The value of a Triple Crown winner could be closer to $20 million or more, based on future breeding fees that he would earn.

No doubt seeking to capitalize on California Chrome’s newfound fame and success, the owners have taken steps to protect their intellectual property rights by filing a U.S. trademark application for “CALIFORNIA CHROME” for “athletic apparel, namely, shirts, pants, jackets, footwear, hats and caps, athletic uniforms.” In the event that California Chrome wins the Triple Crown, there will likely be countless opportunities to license the trademark for various categories of merchandise.

The owners have hired a sports marketing firm and a talent management firm to handle California Chrome’s marketing and sponsorship deals. As reported by Business First, the owners have already entered into a license agreement with All Pro Championships Inc., which will sell clothing relating to California Chrome at the Belmont Stakes and other racing events throughout the year. Additional license agreements are expected to be negotiated prior to the Belmont Stakes.

In addition, the owners have entered into a sponsorship agreement with Skechers, a footwear company. During the Belmont Stakes, the “SKECHERS” brand will be featured on such items as the horse’s blanket and jackets worn by the trainers and owners (including in the winner’s circle should California Chrome win the Triple Crown). The deal permits Skechers to use California Chrome in marketing materials after the race.

ESPN has reported that the Skechers sponsorship agreement is the largest deal in horse racing since UPS paid to advertise on “Big Brown,” a Triple Crown hopeful, in 2008. In that case, a large number of merchandising deals were structured ahead of the race, but all were undone when Big Brown did not win.

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