About the Racketlon Trademark
Date: 2012-11-27
(See also update attached below from 2013-11-18; "Lennart Eklundh Becomes Co-owner of the Racketlon Trademark")
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The original and official Racketlon logo. First used on the poster for the first Swedish Racketlon Championships in June 1990.


Anyone who is familiar with the original Racketlon logotype and has spotted the "R" symbol in it knows that Racketlon is a registered trademark. We sometimes get questions regarding this and here is an effort to address some of them and offer some clarity - for organisers and everyone else interested. The topic is especially relevant at present with the Racketlon World Championships for the first time coming up in Stockholm, the home city of Peter Landberg and the very place where the trademark was born.


History of the Trademark

The name Racketlon was invented and trademarked by Sweden's Peter Landberg as he started to run multi-racket tournaments in Stockholm towards the end of the Eighties. At the first event in 1989 the name Racketlon did not yet exist. Instead it was marketed under the name of Racketmästerskap (Swedish for "Racket Championships"). But soon, inspired by the "athlon" in triathlon, Landberg felt that the perfect name for this new sport would be Racketlon.

When the name first came up, in 1989, Landberg was in a restaurant at Norrmalmstorg in Stockholm with his good friend Anders Wahlstedt (a former Swedish squash champion); Landberg raised his hands in the air and shouted "JAAAA!" as if he had won the gold. It then took a while to figure out whether there should be an "h" in there as in "Rackethlon" but in the end a Swedish spelling conquered. Unfortunately the restaurant no longer exists  but racketletes interested in a pilgrimage should be advised that it was located on Norrmalmstorg square in central Stockholm. See picture below.



The house where Racketlon was born. It was in one of these houses at the southern end of Norrmalmstorg that the word Racketlon was first spoken. Exactly which house is not clear at the moment. More research needed...

In September 1989 the name was trademarked and then a logo was created that was used for the first time in 1990 for the first Swedish Racketlon Championships. That logo is identical to the one above (with the single exception of "T-TENNIS" replacing the Swedish word "PINGIS") and still the official logo of Racketlon.

Landberg continuously, year after year, kept organising Swedish Championships and other Racketlon tournaments - and developing the concept (e.g. at an early stage adjusting the rules inspired by Finnish multi racket tournaments, the rumour of which had reached Stockholm) and the word kept spreading within the Swedish racket communities. So, in 2001 an enthusiastic group of Racketletes in Gothenburg decided to invite the community to a first major tournament in their home city. And that tournament's marketing officer, Hans Mullamaa, had the - in some people's opinion - rather crazy idea of trying to market it internationally and call it the "World Open". This turned out above almost everyone's expectations as some (albeit little more than a handful) foreigners actually arrived to play. Bulgaria, Germany, France and Scotland were represented. But above all Finland, who shocked the Swedish community by winning all three of the major titles; both Elite events and the Men's Veteran.

During the process Mullamaa made inspiring contacts in many parts of the world and as the international potential of Racketlon started to emerge in his mind an agreement was made with Landberg through which they together would share ownership of the trademark that was now also registered on the international level. For Mullamaa that trademark agreement became the starting point for a rather intense undertaking; in his own words he would "live and breath" Racketlon for the next several years. He initiated the International Racketlon Federation in 2002, the Racketlon World Tour in 2003 and spent the next couple of years expanding them as the president of the Federation. His main marketing tool was Racketlon.com, a website that he started in the spring of 2001 ahead of that first World Open and which started to serve as the official homepage of the Federation at its inception a year later.


One perspective on Racketlon growth during the initial years. The number of daily hits on Racketlon.com (on average over the last 28 days). In parallell the number of web pages mentioning the word "Racketlon" grew from 4(!) to 195 000.

As Mullamaa stepped down from the presidency at the end of 2005 to take on a more supportive role as member of the Council he was able to hand over an organisation that had grown to include 15 member states and a World Tour that (in 2006) contained 12 tournaments in 11 countries. Under his presidency Racketlon had become the first multi-racket sport to take place on the international level unifying the multi-racket traditions that existed in many different countries that had seemingly emerged independently at about the same time during the mid or late Eighties. Examples include the Mailapelit (eng: "Racket Games") of Finland, the King of Rackets of Belgium, the Vierschläger-turniere (eng: "Four Rackets Tournaments") of Germany, the Racket4s (pronounced "Racket-force") of Holland and the Championnat de Quatre Raquettes of France. As Racketlon.com was started in the spring of 2001 a search for the word "Racketlon" (on search engine AltaVista, the Google of that time) gave 4(!) hits, all in Sweden. In March 2007 that figure had increased to 195 000 (Google hits).

 


The main features of the present tour were more or less in place in 2006.
2006: 12 tournaments in 11 countries.
2013: 14 tournaments in 12 countries.

Scotland out. Holland and Switzerland in.


Present Trademark Arrangement

In 2009, as the sport was progressing and generally becoming more formalised, a written licensing agreement was made between the Federation and the trademark owners that formally gave the Federation (and by extension its members) the right to use the trademark free of charge. The agreement took effect as of 2010 and is still valid at present. See full text below. Up until then this licensing had been implicit - and, still, free of charge.

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As the owners of the Racketlon trademark we hereby permit the FIR to use the name "Racketlon" for marketing purposes under the following condition:
The original Racketlon logotype (containing the "R" symbolising "Registered Trademark") shall, as of 2010-01-01, clearly appear in all FIR marketing material and in all marketing material for any FIR sanctioned event.
 
(The term "marketing material" is meant to include e.g. posters, videos and websites. Approved versions of the logo are available for download on
http://www.racketlon.com/logos.html )
 
signed:
Peter Landberg & Hans Mullamaa
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We understand that the fact that Racketlon is a privately owned trademark may seem surprising or even strange to newcomers. Especially since obviously none of the four sports that are included in Racketlon share this feature. Indeed not many sports do. There are examples but they are few; Formula One is one. Another is Speedminton (that is about as young a sport as Racketlon on the international level).

Perhaps it's true that the arrangement would have been more fitting for the USA than for Europe (which is where the bulk of Racketlon activity takes place at present) but we believe that the fact that Racketlon is a registered trademark is a so called "win-win". It's good for the sport. And it's good for the owners of the trademark;

Good for the sport:

Incentive.
The whole idea with trademarks in general is to create incentive. And it should be clear from the above history that the ownership of the trademark has provided incentive to move the sport forward at a time when there was little or no monetary incentives. For Mullamaa, the international launch of Racketlon meant a work effort (rather comprehensively documented on Racketlon.com) corresponding to perhaps 20 hours per week over a period of a couple of years. Unpaid. On his leisure. This is not to say that the trademark provided his only incentive - but without it he would certainly not have put in anything near the effort he did - and probably not reached the level needed to make Racketlon an international sport. Landberg, at an earlier stage, put in similar amounts of work. Not as continuously intense perhaps but over a longer period - over more than a decade starting at the late Eighties. It can indeed be questioned whether Racketlon would at all exist today had it not been for the trademark incentive.

And, moreover, we believe that this trademark incentive can - and should - be put to use in the future also. For the benefit of Racketlon.

Good for the trademark owners:

For us the ownership of the trademark simply means a way to stay involved and - possibly, at some time in the future when the sport has grown further - a reasonable financial return on the investments we have made. (Our intention is not to introduce any licensing fees on local or national level. If and when we introduce licensing fees our intention is that this will be done on the international level.)


The Racketlon Logo

As stated in the licensing contract above the only requirement we have on organisers is that they make good use of the official Racketlon logo. We think of it as a great unifying marketing asset for our sport. Immediately recognisable and effectively telling the story of what Racketlon is it has even, after over 20 years of usage, become an iconic symbol.

We are aware that organisers have started to become rather careless about using the logo but we hope that we can encourage you to improve this thereby honouring the origins of our sport. If you are an FIR sanctioned event it is even, as seen above, a formal requirement to use it. And a contractual breach if you don't.

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In conclusion we hope that we, with the above, have cleared at least some of the question marks that might have existed regarding the Racketlon trademark (any remaining questions may be addressed to info @ racketlon.com) and we humbly hope that the Racketlon community will agree that the arrangements have been of great benefit to our sport.


Peter Landberg
- inventor of the name Racketlon and the original trademark owner
- original organiser of Racketlon events starting 1990
- 50% owner of the Racketlon trademark


Hans Mullamaa
- founder (2001) and owner of Racketlon.com
- initiator of Racketlon's first World Championship and Marketing Officer of the first three World Championships (2001-2003)
- initiator of the International Racketlon Federation and its first President (2002-2005).
- initiator of the Racketlon World Tour and its co-ordinator during the first four years (2003-2006)
- 50% owner of the Racketlon trademark

 

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Update 2013-11-18:
Lennart Eklundh Becomes Co-owner of the Racketlon Trademark.

In connection with his World Championships in Stockholm last year Lennart Eklundh was offered - and accepted - co-ownership of the Racketlon trademark. The deal took effect on 23 February 2013 and means that the ownership is now split equally between Landberg, Mullamaa and Eklundh. One third each.

Lennart Eklundh has been a front figure of Racketlon since the beginning of the Nineties(!) First as an assisting partner of Landberg, then increasingly as a driving force behind Racketlon in his own right. Over much of the last decade he has annually invited the Swedish Racketlon community to Enskede Rackethall for Swedish Championships and the international one to Swedish Opens. And between these larger events he has - as the CEO of the racket centre - helped organizing smaller Racketlon events on an almost weekly basis. When the Swedish Racketlon Federation was founded (see link) in 2006 he was the obvious choice for president.

As already indicated Eklundh was also the organizer of the 2012 Racketlon World Championships, by many regarded as the greatest Racketlon spectacle ever to have taken place with features such as "Racketlon Heaven" (a newly built(!) section of the sport center especially for the four Racketlon centre courts) and live coverage of the World Championship final on national television.

/H