As World Cup nears, ambush marketing takes to the field

With international marketers readying for the upcoming FIFA World Cup, the Global Advertising Lawyers Alliance (GALA) has released Ambush Marketing: A Global Legal Perspective, which summarizes laws and other rules governing ambush marketing in 52 countries around the world. “Ambush marketing,” a controversial marketing practice that pits non-sponsors against rights holders, is as prevalent as ever, as marketers seek to associate themselves, rightly or wrongly, with significant sporting or entertainment events.

481459817According to the Ambush Marketing Report, most countries do not have specific legislation addressing ambush marketing. Therefore, rights holders, event producers and official sponsors generally have to rely on traditional trademark and unfair competition law to protect their rights.

Some jurisdictions have enacted event-based legislation that addresses ambush marketing practices when they were required to do so by rights holders, such as the International Olympics Committee or FIFA, in order to get the rights to host the event. For example, Brazil enacted its General World Cup Law (“Lei Geral da Copa” — Law 12.663/2012) in June 2012 after being awarded the right to host the FIFA World Cup.

“We anticipate that more countries will enact event-based legislation to help protect against unwanted ambush marketing,” said Alex Kelham of Lewis Silkin, GALA’s United Kingdom member, in a press statement. “Existing laws are often not sufficient to combat or deter many creative forms of ambush marketing. Rights holders therefore push governments of host countries to enact special legislation to protect their sponsors’ exclusive rights of association, and thereby preserve a primary source of funding for the event,” she said.

Major event producers also continue to aggressively enforce their rights against ambush marketers, according to the Ambush Marketing Report. “With the FIFA World Cup only a few weeks away, we are seeing extensive efforts by both the Brazilian government and FIFA to guard against unauthorized marketing efforts,” said Valdir Rocha, a partner at Veirano Advogados in Brazil and GALA’s vice chairman.

Countries take many different approaches to addressing ambush marketing, adopting a wide variety of rules and enforcement practices. “It is critical for global marketers to understand the rules of the road,” said Jeffrey A. Greenbaum, managing partner of Frankfurt Kurnit Klein and Selz in New York and GALA’s chairman. “With markers using social media to try to stay relevant to consumers on a real-time basis, it is easier than ever for marketers to unwittingly step over the line.”

The report, which updates GALA’s 2011 edition and is available for download here, addresses legal, regulatory and commercial considerations and includes recent enforcement actions in the field of ambush marketing.


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One Response to As World Cup nears, ambush marketing takes to the field

  1. Jesse James says:

    I took a trip to the local “little Mexico” part of town just a few days ago and even I (how could you not) noticed an over abundance of what I now know is “ambush marketing”

    Business/bar owners are putting their names and their products on products they obviously have no rights of association what-so-ever.

    But I don’t know if some of these owners of said business really have any idea that what they are doing is illegal. They’re not educated enough to understand the rules and what any trademarking is or how it works. I’d be interested to see how, if any, these laws would be enforced, but it’s definitely not fair to those companies who shelled out top dollar to have their names associated with the FIFA world cup.