Teqball is the brainchild of Hungarian natives, Gabor Borsanyi, Gyuri Gattyan, and Viktor Huszar. The simple idea of playing football on ping pong tables became a multimillion-dollar business, thanks to their IP awareness. The success story of Teqball highlights the importance of IP strategies and also the role IP rights will play in upcoming sports. This article throws light on how the inventors of the sport gained a commendable market position through diligent recognition and enforcement of their IP rights.
“Our IP is our most valuable asset and protecting it gives us the freedom to build new business relationships without fear of compromising our assets”
-Gergely Mauranyi, Head of CSR & Diplomatic Relations at Teqball
The idea of Teqball was conceived in the early 2000s by a Hungarian native, Gabor Borsanyi. Along the shores of Lake Balaton, playing football on a concrete ping-pong board, a young Borsanyi started to think about making the game more enjoyable and safe. While passing a football across a table tennis table, he realized that he could create a fun and interesting game by adding a simple curve to the table. He teamed up with his neighbor and close friend, Viktor Huszar who aided the creative force of Gabor with technical innovations. As a result of their teamwork, a new sport came to life. Ten years down the line, Teqball, as it is known today, is gaining immense popularity all over the world and especially among football enthusiasts. In addition to being a recreational game in itself, Teqball also serves as a training method for football players to develop their technical skills and concentration. Gabor and his associates have formed a company also named Teqball which holds the exclusive rights to develop and bring innovation in the sports. The company is based out of Budapest and has been going strong and creating value for more than 6 years.
The game is a simple but exciting concoction of Table Tennis and Football. The one playing the game has to master the speed of playing Table Tennis with the skills of playing football. The table used in Teqball is around the same size as that in Table Tennis but with a curved surface and a solid net resilient enough to be able to bounce a football back. Although Teqball has seen a major rise in popularity, there are other games too that the Teqball table can facilitate; Teqtennis, Teqis, Teqvoly, and Tecqdodge to name a few. With the uniquely designed curved table of Teqball, the possibilities are endless.
Unlike any sport in the world, Teqball is heavily studded with IP protection. The design of the Teqball table is patent protected (see US Patent USD823965S1 & European Patent EP2919870A1) and cannot be manufactured by anyone wthout a license from the Company. Even the name “TEQBALL” is trademark protected in addition to several other associated trademarks (see https://www.trademarkia.com/ctm/ctm-company-teqball-holding-sarl-698491-page-1-2). The heart and soul of Teqball, its development, marketing, and expansion is in its Intellectual Property assets. The IP rights they have acquired are central to their business’s future. The Company aims to create a worldwide network of production and distribution of its equipments by way of licensing. According to the makers of the game, the reason for their success was the fact that they understood the importance of protecting their IP at a very early stage. As the idea of playing football on a curved tabletop was a fairly simple one, they feared that anyone could have copied it. Since its inception, the Company has made all potential partners sign NDAs. They have also taken strict measures to protect the design of different equipments and trademarked all possible variations of the game like “TEQPONG”, “TEQVOLY”, “FITEQ”, “TEQSPORTS”, “TEQIS”, etc. The Company has taken full advantage of the PCT System, Hague System, and the Madrid System for cost-effective filing and registration of patents, designs, and trademarks and has sought IP protection in more than 50 countries. By early 2020 Teqball had already found manufacturing and distribution partners in Latin America and Asia. IP rights have played the most significant role in enabling the Company to promote the sport.
Teqball has roped in big names in football like Ronaldinho, Diego Maradona, Lionel Messi, Steven Gerrard, Wayne Rooney, Neymar Jr., John Terry, and many others to be the ambassadors of the game, naming them “Teqers”. Teqball also has a governing body, FITEQ (International Federation of Teqball). By 2019, FITEQ was already recognized by the Olympic Committee of Asia and the Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa. In November 2020, the Global Association of International Sports Federation (GAISF) granted full membership to FITEQ. FITEQ now aims at becoming an Olympic sport. FITEQ organizes official tournaments including a world championship, the latest of which was held in 2019. It also publishes regular world rankings of its host of players from different corners of the world.
It is truly fascinating to see how Teqball has emerged as a sport at a world stage in such a short period of time. From a commercial point of view, it has been a huge success story. Teqball boasts of lucrative sponsorship agreements with giants like BMW, Hublot, Adidas, Coca-Cola, and Gatorade. It has teamed up with national football federations of countries including Germany, Brazil, Hungary, Belgium, Croatia, Azerbaijan, and Wales. It has also teamed up with major football clubs like Arsenal FC, Chelsea FC, Real Madrid CF, FC Barcelona, Manchester United FC, AC Milan, only to name a few. With its business reaching new heights, the Company now looks forward to creating more value through mediums other than innovation in the sport or marketing its equipments. It has now ventured on several CSR campaigns. In the exact words of its Head of CSR, Teqball has now become more than a profit-making business proposition.
The journey of Teqball from a pastime game played on the beaches of Lake Balaton to a full-fledged sport with international recognition is truly remarkable and a one-of-a-kind story. It goes to show how an effective IP strategy can do wonders to even a simple idea.
3.With Teqball the World is Curved, WIPO Magazine, Available at https://www.wipo.int/wipo_magazine/en/2019/04/article_0005.html
4. Case Study on Best Practice in External Marketing Communication: Case on Teqball, Marciee, Available at https://www.uni-kassel.de/fb07/uploads/media/Hungary_3_Teqball.pdf