Mark of a Champion - How Manny Pacquiao is earning millions from IP

Posted on January 19, 2019



Eight-division world boxing champion, senator, and hometown hero Manny Pacquiao is facing off against American boxer Adrian Broner this Saturday, in Las Vegas (Sunday, Manila time) and whether or not he holds on to his title,  the People’s Champ is already a winner as he’s snapping up an 8-figure payday - much of it enabled by intellectual property.


The commercial and economic value of sports is rooted in intellectual property. The sports economy - branding & licensing, sports broadcasting, product innovation to name a few - runs on commercialising IP assets.




Take sponsorships of boxing bouts, for example:  branding is obviously one lucrative revenue stream for the fight promoters and organizers, and trademarks are at the core of it.


Sponsorship of long-awaited matches are the bread and butter of sports organisers and promoters. The much-hyped Pacquiao-Mayweather fight in 2015 drew in record-breaking sponsorship deals for the two boxers’ promoters, estimated at $ 13.2 million. This came from title sponsors (Paramount Pictures, Tecate, and Smart Communications among others) all eager to have their logos and content splashed all over the arena and aired during the pay-per-view broadcast.


As an individual athlete, Manny Pacquiao has notched multi-million dollar sponsorship deals with brands both local and foreign - income channels hinged on his reputation in the boxing world .


In the 2015 fight, the PacMan’s boxing shorts was premium ad space: a 4-in x 6-in patch was said to cost upwards of P10 million or at least $300,000.  Brands like Cafe Puro, Phoenix Petroleum , and Air Asia were among those who dropped six figures to be sewn on the shorts - and enjoyed extensive exposure to the 4.4 million viewers who tuned in on the match.


Outside the ring, Manny Pacquiao had major sports and non-sports brands line up to bank on his stellar name: Nike, Nestle, Hewlett-Packard, and Hennessy, had at one point been major endorsers.


In the Philippines, there are few sectors who did not snap up the People’s Champ as a brand ambassador; Pacquiao became the face of many, many local brands from airlines to condiments.


Sponsorship deals may also involve merchandising  - another form of branding. In 2016, Pacquiao signed Chinese sportswear brand ANTA as an apparel sponsor, agreeing to don the brand’s products during training and competitive bouts, in exchange for strengthening ANTA's market visibility.


On the flipside, one can also see the value of trademarks in the companies that don’t offer endorsements: the famed Cleto Reyes Mexican brand of boxing gloves (registered by the IP owner as far back as 1975), by its excellent reputation as a product, does not give endorsements and yet continue to be the ‘champion’s choice’ in boxing.


Athletes themselves can have their trademarks for their own line of merchandise.


Usain Bolt’s name and silhouette in the ‘lightning pose’, LeBron James’ "Home Court by LeBron James” for basketball-theme furnishings, and Lance Armstrong’s ‘Livestrong’ - are all IP assets that enabled athletes to earn outside (or after) their career.


According to the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL), Manny Pacquiao registered his name as a trademark for several classes of goods (such as sporting goods, textiles and textile bed sheets, clothing,  footwear, headgear, and a lot more) seeing the business opportunity that lies in his name.


Commercialising trademarks is just one way by which athletes, honed by years of rigorous training & painstaking discipline, are rewarded for their hard work.


But as often said, the sports economy wouldn't thrive without “the love of the game” coming from the millions of fans around the world.  


This looks into yet another aspect of sports anchored on intellectual property, how sports is able to connect to millions of its fans: broadcasting.



Bookmark this page for part 2 of this story about copyright's related rights in sports, particularly broadcasting.