Article by Avv. Felix Hofer*
In less than two decades the practice known as ambush
marketing has resulted in a major threat to IP rights. All events, be it
entertainment or sports, followed by a significant audience have to cope with
those smart guys, not willing to afford costly financial involvement as
sponsors, but keen on benefiting from the event's resonance. Small companies
and start ups as well as big players have been trying the free foot board ride
on the showcase vehicle of events implying global brand exposure.
Those tricks obviously led to clashes with the
events' organizers and official sponsors, determined in fiercely defending
their investments. During the years the conflict between opposite interests has
increasingly heated up and, when traditional legal action, as trademark and
copyright protection or claims for unfair competition practices, fell afoul of
granting sufficient results, a call for stricter measures arouse. Therefore all
major sports events are nowadays backed by specific provisions and strong
sanctions, aimed at closing the system's previous loopholes and at assuring
special rights to the official sponsors.
The specific laws usually provide protection for the
events' logos and their derivatives and ban wording implying undue association
with the event; sometimes they contain explicit reference to ambush
marketing as an illicit practice when resulting in not authorized
activities performed for profit in parallel to those properly licensed. The
Organizing Committees of the upcoming Olympic Games in Beijing, Vancouver and London have already begun - years ahead of their events' start - to prepare
for efficiently fighting ambush marketing. Since Beijing was selected as
the Host City for the 2008 Games, the Chinese Government passed a special
Regulation (which came into effect in April 2002) for protecting the Olympic
symbol; the Municipality of Beijing issued additional provisions for the same
Canada protects the symbols of the Vancouver Games as well as a comprehensive
list of specific marks and delivers detailed information on banned ambush
marketing and sponsors' brand protection on the VANOC's official website.
The Organizing Committee is also seeking special legislation from the federal
government in order to increase IP protection.
The London Olympic Games Act 2006 received royal
assent in March 2006 and protects, aside of the traditional symbols, also
definitions referring to or implying...