Like Weasels Around A Prey!

Profession:Hofer Lösch Torricelli

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...

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