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IRONMAN triathletes really are IRON MAN superheroes


To all IRONMAN triathletes: If there was ever any doubt that you really are an IRON MAN superhero too, you now have confirmation.

Wanda Sports Group Co. (owners of IRONMAN triathlon brand) which went public on the Nasdaq Global Market last Friday 26 July 2019, released details about its license agreement with Marvel.

It turns out, the parties are in bed together but more in the way that you stay on one side of the bed, I’ll stay on the other side and we’ll just amicably share the covers.

We have been unable to get sight of the license agreement itself, but the Wall Street Journal gave away some of the details.

What we do know is that Wanda pay Marvel royalties for the use of the IRONMAN trade mark.  Wanda will not use the IRONMAN trade mark in any way that would suggest a connection to IRON MAN comic books or action-figures.

We suspect there are also mutual assurances by Marvel that it won’t use its IRON MAN in the sports industry.

However, Marvel likely has more favourable terms under the license because the IRON MAN superhero came along first, when the character was born in a comic book in 1963. The superhero then became a mega-hit following the first of three movies in 2008.

The IRONMAN triathlon started in Hawai’i in 1978 following a debate amongst military athletes as to who were the fitter species – swimmers, cyclists or runners. They decided to combine three established individual long distance races into one long distance triathlon event. Whoever finished first would be called the “Iron Man”. The race format and rules were clearly set: “Swim 2.4 miles! Bike 112 miles! Run 26.2 miles! Brag for the rest of your life“.

Both IRONMAN brands are incredibly successful in their own right. Apparently, the IRON MAN movies topped US$2.4 billion in worldwide Box Office sales alone, whilst a few years ago the IRONMAN triathlon was reportedly worth over US$650 million.

It shows that, provided boundaries and terms are very carefully agreed, it is possible for two completely different businesses that share the same name to enjoy a happy and successful co-existence.

And we all know that in reality, when you hear “YOU ARE AN IRONMAN” as you cross the finish line, you think “YOU KNOW, IT’S MOMENTS LIKE THESE WHEN I REALIZE WHAT A SUPERHERO I AM.”

Link to Wall Street Journal article (free to see once but subscription only thereafter):

This article is for general information only. Its content is not a statement of the law on any subject and does not constitute advice. Please contact Reddie & Grose LLP for advice before taking any action in reliance on it.


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