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New technologies and their impact on sport

By Pablo Roberto García Pacheco, Junior Partner at Hoet Peláez Castillo & Duque - 22/05/2019
New technologies and their impact on sport

The following article was published on LexLatin on April 29, 2019, in occasion of the World Intellectual Property Day, which this year looked inside the relation between IP and sports. 

In an eternal discussion between romantics and pragmatists of sport, the factor of technology applied to our favorite social phenomenon always generates a lot of controversy. Sport does not escape those technological advances to which we are all daily exposed. On the contrary, technology’s importance and transcendence in society demand its application in sport: to watch athletes exhibit better results and to grant more justice in refereeing decisions. As the development of new technologies has played an important role in all aspects of sports, I would like to touch on some specific cases.

It is normal for all of us to sit and watch tennis. When the ball bounces near the limits of the court a camera shows, almost magically, the exact place where the ball bounced, thus being called “in or out” by the line umpire. This supposed act of magic was given to us by a patent developed in 2005 in Hampshire, United Kingdom, property of Paul Hawkins and David Sherry, engineers of Rose Manor Research Limited. Nowadays, professional tennis is inconceivable without the application of this technology.

What would have happened to the history of Argentina’s football if in the 1986 FIFA World Cup in Mexico , Diego Maradona’s famous "hand of God" goal against England would have been revised by the VAR? Has it occurred people to ask Armando Galarraga, a Venezuelan baseball pitcher victim of one of the most important refereeing errors in MLB history, if he wanted the last play of June 2, 2010 to be reviewed? On that afternoon, Jim Joyce, a first base umpire, snatched a place in history to Galarraga, who will always be remembered for his "near-perfect game” playing for the Detroit Tigers against the Cleveland Indians.

Multimedia technological advances have made it possible for most disciplines to review dubious arbitration decisions. Starting from the premise that human mistakes are an undeniable reality and, in many cases, cause enormous injustices, most sports have decided to implement systems that seek to add a degree of confidence to the game.

But this is not only about the applied technology to correct the mistakes of our dear friends the referees. It goes further, into the technology applied in sports equipment for a better performance of athletes, where perhaps the sport with the greatest impact has been golf. It’s also about the application of wearable technology to measure the performance of athletes during their activity. The greatest exponent of this technology is the catapult chest strap, used by more than 400 sports organizations around the world and adhered to all the uniforms used in the NFL. These are sensors placed in the body and connected to computer programs which generate real time data for care, proper use and management of times and demands to obtain the maximum potential of an athlete.

Sport is a social phenomenon in constant growth, with technology trying to keep pace. Back to the example of Maradona’s "hand of God", during FIFA’s 1986 World Cup nearly no one imagined that it could be possible to reverse a decision in less than 30 seconds. But those who do imagine it then proceeded to develop a technology according to the needs of the game and the demands of the sports environment. 

By Pablo Roberto García Pacheco, Junior Partner at Hoet Peláez Castillo & Duque - 22/05/2019
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HOET PELÁEZ CASTILLO & DUQUE, since its foundation, more than 70 years ago, has been devoted to its clients offering them high quality international legal services. As a result of these high quality standards, and complying with all its requirements, HPCD has been awarded the “COVENIN ISO 9001: 2008 Quality Certificate” by FONDONORMA, in the Intellectual Property process, becoming the only one Law Firm in Venezuela. HPCD’s partners and staff, in its continued effort to improve its services to clients and taking into account its commitment to them, has also tried to improve its online services, thereby enabling clients to handle and manage their own patent and trademark portfolios online and in real time using exclusive technology.