01 Apr 2010

Getting Legal Wise: Avoid the FIFA Red Card.

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By Adv Randolph Samuel @ Lucid Living

“Forget the goals on the pitch, I plan on scoring a financial goal for the FIFA World Cup,” boasts Jason Roberts, a final year BCom student from East London. Roberts elaborates, “Every overseas visitor will want a unique souvenir, and I plan on providing it – 2010 FIFA branded vuvuzelas!”

The FIFA World Cup event has developed itself as a world-wide brand and successful business. For that reason, companies like Coca-Cola and Telkom want to be associated with it. Being sponsors of the 2010 FIFA World Cup means these companies will almost instantly become world wide household names. That kind of exposure comes at a premium – companies such as Telkom paid millions of rands to be a sponsor,  and will not happily allow Jason to enjoy the same exposure, for free!

Like Jason, you may have a great idea to capitalise on the 2010 FIFA World Cup event and cash in. And why shouldn’t you, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity? Well, here’s why!

1.    Ambush Marketing

What Jason is planning on doing is known as “ambush marketing”. This is where a party exploits a sponsored event without paying for the right to do so, either by suggesting an official “association” (e.g. using official logos) or by deliberately “intruding” on an event,  deflecting attention towards itself and away from a sponsor (e.g. handing out products to spectators at stadiums).

FIFA recently won a court caseagainst Pretoria’s Eastwoods Tavern – who used the phrase “World Cup 2010″ below the main signage on its roof. Owen Dean, a partner at Spoor & Fisher (the law firm representing FIFA), said “This sends out a clear signal to any other organisation considering ambush marketing – they will suffer untoward consequences”.

2.    FIFA Tradmarks

Think of FIFA as a company, and the World Cup Tournament as its best selling product. Like any company with a winning product, it has gone to the nth degree to protect its intellectual property. FIFA has registered a myriad of trademarks to protect its brand and sponsors. These include – World Cup 2010, South Africa 2010, SA World Cup 2010, SA 2010, ZA 2010, Soccer World Cup, FIFA World Cup, 2010 World Cup, 2010 FIFA World Cup etc.

You can get the comprehensive list of trademarks and marketing guidelines at – http://www.fifa.com/mm/53/42/06/2010_fifa_public_guidelines_en_260908.pdf.

This means that no one is entitled to use these trademarkswithout permission from FIFA.

3.    Our Laws

“Spectators will have to queue for long periods, at crowded park and ride sites, during winter! Who won’t be tempted by the aroma of freshly percolated coffee?” points out Joseph Mabula, the owner of a coffee shop franchise. “This event will give my brand the exposure it needs to get into the game.”

Under section 15A of the Merchandise Marks Act, the 2010 World Cup has been declared a “protected” event. This means that an unauthorised party cannot try to gain publicity and a promotional benefit in relation to the event.

Section 9(d) of the Trade Practices Act also makes it an offence for any person to falsely imply or suggest a contractual or other association with a sponsored event.

Under these laws, without the proper authorisation from FIFA, Mabula cannot sell his coffee to fans attending the games, without committing a criminal offence – for which he may have to pay a fine and/or be imprisoned, if found guilty.

So how do you score a financial goal without getting the red card? Arguably the greatest sporting event is being hosted in our back yard and we’ll have the world’s attention. That exposure and opportunity comes along once in a life time. You would be unwise not to capitalise on it. My advice is, familiarise yourself with FIFA’s marketing guidelines, take cognisance of the potential pitfalls highlighted in this article and lace up your marketing boots – we’re about to kick-off!

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