How to use large sporting events for promotion the right way

2011-09-13 00:00

THE sponsors of the Rugby World Cup 2011 in New Zealand, as is the case with most large sporting happenings, are allowed to run promotional competitions and offer match tickets as prizes. However, if you aren’t an official sponsor, may you run the same promotion?

Phillip Haupt, senior associate, Trade Mark Department at attorneys Adams & Adams, says he would not recommend it.

Haupt says that depending on the manner in which you are advertising the promotion, your conduct may amount to trade mark infringement, passing off and ambush marketing.

“If you are not a sponsor of an event, you may not give the public the impression that you are in anyway associated with the event,” says Haupt. “Therefore, the mere use of ‘win tickets to the Rugby World Cup 2011’ on promotional materials may be problematic.”

However, Haupt points out that there are other ways of ensuring that your initiatives do not amount to trade mark infringement, passing-off and ambush marketing.

Firstly, he says, refrain from using any of the registered trademarks of Rugby World Cup Ltd, including the Rugby World Cup word mark and logo.

Secondly, ensure that the set-up of your promotional materials does not allude to the Rugby World Cup or the sponsored event. It is preferable to state that you are not an official sponsor of the event.

Another important issue is that the terms and conditions of purchasing a Rugby World Cup or sponsored-event ticket: “The Rugby World Cup 2011 terms and conditions state that a ticket may not be transferred, used or otherwise disposed of in relation to any promotional or commercial purpose (including any competition, advertising, promotion, auction or as a prize in any competition or sweepstake, whether for a business or a charity or otherwise), or enhance the demand for any other goods or services. A ticket may be cancelled, without a refund, if it is found to have been acquired in such a manner.”

Haupt suspects that winners of these promotional competitions may not be too pleased if this happens.


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