Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Ambush marketing and the protection of the trade marks of international sports organisations – a comparative view

Co-blogger Roshana Kelbrick has published a thought provoking read entitled: Ambush marketing and the protection of the trade marks of international sports organisations – a comparative view in CILSA. Her final paragraph sums up her thoughts:

"I have illustrated that intellectual property legislation does not always
provide the level of protection sought by international sports organisations. Neither does event-specific legislation, when it clashes with intellectual property principles. But if a solution to this perceived lacuna is deemed necessary, it should not be sought by relaxing or amending intellectual property principles. As the foundations of intellectual property law are basedon the grant of some form of monopoly, the extension of such protection should not happen on demand. Big business, in the guise of sports organisations, is not entitled to unwarranted protection for descriptive words merely because this is ‘good for the game’. Neither is it entitled to prevent others from expressing pleasure and interest in the very ‘game’ on which its demands are based."


The article is timely given that brand owners (particularly sponsors) will be looking to shore up their protection ahead of the 2010 World Cup based in South Africa. FIFA itself is not lounging on the TV couch as explained by Dr Owen Dean in World Trade Mark Report: Opening Shots at 2010 World Cup Goal:

"The main objective of FIFA for the 2010 World Cup is to make it a success not only for the players, the football fans and the game of football, but also from a financial point of view. To this end, FIFA is actively pursuing a rigorous rights enforcement programme to curtail unauthorized use of the event for promotional purposes. The threats come from two quarters:

- the distribution of counterfeit merchandise; and
- ambush marketing"

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