While holding on to their key values and traditions, most sports have made serious attempts to modernise over the years. There have been thousands of patents filed for inventions made to find new and improved ways to train and compete across various disciplines. Golf – considered by many as one of the more traditional sports – has been the most innovative in terms of patents filed since the turn of the new millennium.
According to data by Sagacious IP, a global intellectual property research and consulting firm, there have been 83,267 patents filed relating to golf between 2000 and 2019. Football is a distant second in this regard with 22,397 and tennis third (20,195). Cricket, meanwhile, has seen 1,916 patents filed in that period.
A patent, once granted, secures the intellectual property of the inventor for a designated period of time in exchange for monetary compensation.
Steps, curbs and bumpy sidewalks are often insurmountable obstacles for wheelchair users
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— World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) (@WIPO) October 5, 2021
According to the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), “A patent is an exclusive right granted for an invention, which is a product of a process that provides, in general, a new way of doing something, or offers a new technical solution to a problem.”
There is a difference, however, between patents ‘published’ and ‘granted.’
According to UpCounsel, a website providing legal services, “Just because a patent application is published, it won’t always be granted. Patent applications are published in order to make the public sphere aware of what is seeking patent protection. This means that, if the patent isn’t actually granted to the work, the public can learn from the work anyway.”
Patents ‘granted,’ meanwhile means what the term suggests – that the patent has been approved and is protected by intellectual property rights.
Golf leading the way
The first patent filed related to golf was in 1891 when Frances Archibald Fairlie introduced improvements in metal- headed golf clubs.
The sport has seen over 83,000 patents filed between 2000 and 2019. However, so far only 26,541 of those applications have been ‘granted.’
Some of the patents granted relate to collection of data, it’s storage and analysis – data such as golf swing or scoring chart of a player.
Interchangeable club heads
Quite simply, this patent published in July 2014 relates to a single golf club shaft being fitted with interchangeable heads. Generally, a golf bag will contain numerous clubs with varying heads on the top – a putter and driver, for example. With this new invention, though, the size of the golf bag reduces as a different club head can be screwed on or off a single shaft.
Golf glove holder
Another published patent – dating back to 2002 – is the golf glove holder mounted on the golf cart. It was specifically designed to provide players with a quick way of drying their gloves that may have become damp due to sweat.
Making football modern
Between 2000 and 2019, 22,397 patents were filed in football, and 7,392 granted. The first patent filed in football dates back to 1907 when Maria Henriette Godey created an outer casing or envelope for soccer balls, according to Sagacious IP.
The online gaming industry has developed several football games, which have been patented as well.
Portable football goal
Probably one of the most important inventions to have aided the current trend of multipurpose sporting venues across the world is the 1986 invention of the portable football goal. Essentially, the frame of the football goal post can easily be dismantled and stored when not required, and can just as easily be erected when a football match has to be played.
Motion graphics on the ball
Visual designs on a football don’t just serve as a cosmetic effect. In 2017, Nike was granted a patent for the motion graphics on a ball. It essentially means there are designs in one or more contrasting colours on the casing of a football that allow data to be assessed – for example, the number of rotations per minute of a ball in flight after a free-kick is hit, etc.
Cricket chirping at patents
Cricket has only seen 332 patents granted from the 1,916 filed between 2000 and 2019. The sport’s first patent came in 1894, when William David Cameron invented improvements in bats.
A large number of cricket’s modern patents have been about apps that collect and disseminate data. But there have been a decent number that relate to on-field changes as well.
In 2011, George William Beldam invented a cricket ball that doesn’t lose its shape when damp, and can be used to conduct play during the rain. Various other factors, however, have marred the implementation of this patent, such as low visibility and bats getting damaged.
Mongoose cricket bats
As the 2021 IPL season nears its completion, it’s worth remembering that in the second season of the T20 league in 2009, former Australian opener Matthew Hayden decided to play with a Mongoose bat. The bat had a longer handle and shorter wooden face at the bottom. The face, however, was much thicker – almost three times that of a conventional bat. It provided greater power when facing yorkers or low-full tosses.
Despite Hayden’s success with that bat, it did not catch on.