A soccer star and a savvy businessman: Mbappé leads Messi and Ronaldo in registered trademarks

FILE - France's Kylian Mbappe, center, celebrates after scoring his side's fourth goal during the final match between France and Croatia at the 2018 soccer World Cup in the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia, Sunday, July 15, 2018. Mbappe has told Paris Saint-Germain he will leave the club at the end of the season, it was reported on Thursday, Feb. 15, 2024. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, File)

BRUSSELS (AP) — It’s hard to say whether Kylian Mbappé is ahead of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in their battle for the honorific title of “best player in the world.”

But ahead of his expected move to Real Madrid, Mbappé is already leading the pair of multiple Ballon d’Or winners when it comes to intellectual property protection.

In a sign of his immense commerical power, the PSG striker owns seven EU trademarks, including his iconic crossarmed goal celebration pose, his name and the logo of his company. According to the European Union intellectual property office, Messi and Ronaldo have six trademarks registered each.

Mbappé has also registered two of his famous quotes — “Le football, il a changé (Football has changed)” and “Moi, tu m’parles pas d’age (You don’t talk to me about age)” for products including electronic games, mobile apps, posters, handbags, footwear, cosmetics or jewelry.

Inter Miami forward Lionel Messi (10) dribbles the ball under pressure from Orlando City midfielder Martín Ojeda (11) and Orlando City defender Rafael Santos (3) during the first half of an MLS soccer match, Saturday, March 2, 2024, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

An EU trademark gives exclusive rights in all EU countries, a market of almost 500 million consumers. It also protects owners against counterfeiting and fraud.

The EU body said Mbappé filed two more applications in February. He is topping the list of EU trademarks owned by soccer players.

Mbappé’s “Football has changed” quote became viral on social media two years ago. The business-savvy Frenchman uttered it during a press conference after he was asked on image rights and sports sponsorship following his refusal to take part in a marketing event with the French national team.

While registering trademarks is not unusual in soccer, women’s players are, however, invisible in the European IP protection sphere.

“While many of the professional football players in the top European teams own at least one EU trademark, there are no women among them,” the EU office said. “Alexia Putellas, Aitana Bonmatí, Marta, Alex Morgan, Caroline Graham…they are all stars but they have not yet started to play the IP game.”

Al Nassr's Cristiano Ronaldo kicks the ball during Riyadh Season Cup 2024 final match against Al Hilal at Kingdom Arena Stadium in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024. (AP Photo)

When it comes to clubs, “the king of Europe is Real Madrid,” the EU office said. The Spanish giant owns 33 EU trademarks and 24 designs – among them, the shape of the benches’ seats of the Bernabeu stadium.

Madrid’s archrival Barcelona owns 22 EU trademarks and seven designs. Bayern Munich, PSG and Manchester United complete the European top five.

Among Paris Saint Germain’s trademarks, there’s the sound bite “Ici c’est Paris (Here it’s Paris),” which was recorded directly from the supporters’ chants,” the EU office said, adding that all the major leagues in Europe own several EU trademarks and designs to protect their logos, names and the shape of the trophies. Outside the 27-nation bloc, Major League Soccer in the United States owns several EU trademarks.

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