A video camera focusing on a soccer field. Photo: EUIPO

Foul play: The high cost of IP infringement in sports

This year, Europe is the focal point for all things sports-related. The world is gearing up to witness spectacular goals at the UEFA Euro 2024, photo finishes at the Tour de France, and triumphs at the Olympic Games in Paris.

As Europeans prepare to watch the biggest sporting events, millions may do so illegally. According to a study by the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) on citizens' perceptions and behaviors, 12 percent of EU citizens had accessed or streamed content from illegal sources to watch sports. Among youths aged 15-24, over a quarter (27 percent) admit to using illegal online channels to view sports.

  • 14 percent of Swedes access or stream content from illegal online sources for sports viewing, and the figure rises to 33 percent among youths aged 15-24.
  • Additionally, 9 percent of Swedish youths in this age group have knowingly purchased counterfeit sports equipment online.

Big events, big opportunities for fraud

In addition to broadcasting rights associated with major sports events, there are intellectual properties: from the iconic Olympic rings and top athletes' names and images, to the competitors' sports equipment and the official mascots and souvenirs of the events.

However, where there is both money and millions of spectators and consumers, there is an opportunity for fraudsters to profit. All types of content – including sports events – are streamed over the internet, and the EUIPO estimates that piracy across all media generates 1 billion euros in illegal revenue each year.

Foul play: The high cost of IP infringement in sports - EUIPO (europa.eu)