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Sydney Opera House’s demands for licence fee for ‘sails’ logo to impact city’s sport brands

Sydney Opera House’s demands for licence fee for ‘sails’ logo to impact city’s sport brands
August 10, 2020

The Sydney Opera House Trust’s demand that sports teams using its famous sails in their logos pay an annual $50,000 licensing fee looks set to impact the brands of several of the city's sports teams.

The AFL’s Sydney Swans, NRL’s Sydney Roosters and NBL’s Sydney Kings each currently use a likeness of the Opera House’s sails in their logos, with the basketball franchise now to introduce a rebrand of the club’s logo later this year having decided not to pay the licence fee.

The Kings‘ previous fee was $1000 a season when it was originally registered in 2010, but this has changed after the NBL moved away from Basketball Australia to a private ownership model, forcing the Trust to significantly increase its licencing fee.

NBL Commissioner Jeremy Loeliger says he respects the Trust’s position but said the League and the Kings couldn’t justify the spend to retain the Opera House logo.

Loeliger advised “(the Trust) are entirely within their rights to do that and the conversations were amicable, and they were very cooperative, but between the Kings and ourselves it just didn’t stack up commercially as being a good value for money outcome.

“The people at the Trust were good in their recollection was that Basketball Australia were given a sweet deal because it was essentially a case of financial hardship for the Kings at the time.

“If that is what they - the Opera House Trust - get from elsewhere in the market, then we are pretty used to not being able to afford the things that our older, bigger brothers can afford.

“But that is okay. We are also pretty good at being able to reinvent ourselves in ways that we can afford, and in doing so we tend to do a good job at adding value to whatever it is we do in developing a brand.

“From my point of view, there is no ongoing ill will, everyone has to try and do business in this environment.”

When Sydney went into voluntary administration following the 2001/2002 NBL season, the licence agreement dictated that the club’s Intellectual Property would revert to Basketball Australia to keep it in the sport.

The NBL’s private ownership, which was formed in 2015, have since regained the Kings’ IP after dialogue with Basketball Australia.

A League champions Sydney FC have had an arrangement and partnership with the Opera House Trust since 2017 given they display the Opera House on the club’s badge.

It’s understood the Sydney Swans have a similar agreement while back-to-back NRL champions the Sydney Roosters do not.

An Opera House spokesperson confirmed negotiations took place over a new trademark licence agreement for a "modest fee but that no agreement was reached.

The Opera House spokesperson added "the recent approach with the Sydney Kings is part of an ongoing process to ensure consistency in commercial brand use and trademark licences.”

The logo trademarks of the Swans and Roosters are both up for renewal in 2026, according to the IP Australia website, which could give the Opera House an opportunity to seek a substantial fee akin to what was asked of the Kings.

No logo trademark was found for the Big Bash League's Sixers, whose badge features an outline reminiscent of the Opera House sails.

Image: The Sydney Kings famous logo, which, in the future will no longer display the sails of the Sydney Opera House.

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