It's not cricket

Article  \  2 Feb 2015

This month cricket fans from around the world will be feasting themselves on the bowling and batting of their favourite teams at the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015.

With match ticket sales expected to reach the 'magic million', possibly more, cricket's flagship tournament is on track to be one of the most exciting and intense competitions yet. This spells great news for Australia and New Zealand, where tens of thousands of fans will flock to one of fourteen venues to support their team.

What a great opportunity for businesses in hospitality, retail, and tourism, you might say. And that will surely be the case for many - providing they don't get LBW'd by infringing intellectual property rights. Sorry, folks. Events like these are full of highly protected IP, the enforcement of which is almost a sport in itself.

Here's a flavour of the fine print on's media zone terms and conditions:

'All rights in the tournament names, trophies, company names, trade names, logos, product packaging and designs of ICC, or official sponsors, licensees, suppliers, or other third-party products or services, belong exclusively to ICC or such third-party, as applicable, or their respective owners, and are protected from reproduction, imitation, dilution or confusing or misleading uses under national and international laws, as applicable.' It goes on, but you get the idea. 

In plain English, the International Cricket Council (ICC) owns all rights in pretty much anything to do with the Cricket World Cup, and the use or misuse of these rights is prohibited.

Aside from obvious cases of infringement, such as producing t-shirts featuring the official ICC Cricket World Cup logo, there are other traps to beware of falling into. For example, you might innocently advertise a 'Cricket World Cup special', but that would be against the rules. Why? Because in New Zealand there is a piece of legislation known as the Major Events Management Act 2007 (MEMA) which is designed to protect organisers and sponsors of major events from 'ambush marketing'.

Ambush marketing is where a company (or person) seeks to capitalise on the prominence of a major event by unauthorised association with the event, or by using an event to draw attention to its brand, products or services.

Under MEMA, protection against ambush marketing is partly achieved by defining 'major event words', and 'major event emblems'. In the case of the ICC Cricket World Cup, two emblems (pictured below), and several major event words or word combinations are protected.
MEMA also provides for protection against unauthorised advertising in designated 'clean zones' and 'clean transport routes' for specified times before, during, and after major event activity. For example, if your restaurant or bar happens to be in a designated clean zone, you wouldn't be able to put up a sign on the pavement saying 'Come in and enjoy our CWC fanzone'. That would be considered 'intrusion' (a particular type of ambush marketing), and the word combination 'CWC fanzone' is protected under the MEMA order.

The moral of the story, is that unless you're the organiser of a major event, an authorised sponsor, licensee, or third party, your best bet is to go about your business as usual and not be tempted to jump on the bandwagon of a heavily protected tournament. All that's likely to do is result in you being out for a duck.

For full details, you can read the Major Events Management (Cricket World Cup 2015) Order 2013 here. This came into effect on 20 December 2013 and will end on 15 April 2015.


An edited version of this article first appeared in the February 2015 issue of NZ Entrepreneur magazine.