Ambush marketers, FIFA, the World Cup® and you!

Article  \  12 Jun 2014

While most can think only about their favourite team, FIFA has other things on its mind.  The governing body has just released guidelines to the public on how it will enforce and monitor the proper use of its official World Cup trade marks. Many of these brands have been specially developed for the 2014 games and include, among others, the image of the FIFA World Cup Trophy, terms such as WORLD CUP®, 2014 FIFA WORLD CUP BRAZIL® and the official slogan ALL IN ONE RHYTHM®.

FIFA’s guidelines prohibit third parties from using the official trade marks to associate themselves with the games unless they have paid FIFA for the right to do so.  Ambush marketers, or those who unlawfully align themselves with the World Cup by using FIFA’s intellectual property without authorisation, will face penalties if they are caught. 

These cautionary steps are not surprising. Policies clarifying trade mark rights are commonly seen with large events and highlight the importance of controlling how intellectual property is used.  The value of intangible assets can be enormous and FIFA’s understanding of this is reflected in its guidelines, which state that “Any unauthorised use of the Official Marks not only undermines the integrity of the FIFA World Cup™ and its marketing programme, but also puts the interests of the worldwide football community at stake”.

For Kiwis keen to profit from the games while remaining on their home turf, be careful!  Intellectual property rights are territorial and FIFA has protected its marks in New Zealand. Using brands that are the same or similar to FIFA’s could make you liable under the Trade Marks Act, the Fair Trading Act or passing off, if such use gives the wrongful impression that you are affiliated with FIFA.  

Now that the matches are under way, there is no better time to contact us if you have questions about your current or proposed activities. We are experts at the intellectual property game and will make sure you have the strategies in place to score the winning goal.

This article was written by Sue Ironside.