Trademark Law and the World Cup

The World Cup kicks off in Brazil today, June 12. This tournament, which attracts close to 1 billion viewers, ranks with the Olympics and the Super Bowl in terms of profitability, predicted to generate $4 billion in total revenue.

For an event like this, you may not be surprised that trademarks play an important – and financially valuable – legal role. Most of FIFA’s revenue comes from television and marketing rights. When Brazil won the right to host the tournament, it did so under strict terms that FIFA could file and fast-track any related trademark registrations in the Brazilian Patent and Trademark Office without paying fees and that FIFA was released from any bond requirements related to efforts to enforce FIFA’s IP rights in Brazilian courts. FIFA filed applications for nearly 100 marks related to the games.

According to the explanations and guidelines on FIFA’s website, marketers must abstain from using all of the registered logos and slogans and only products from ?authorized” World Cup sponsors are allowed within 2-kilometers of each hosting venue. Even Google is taking a cautious stance to avoid infringing FIFA’s brand and thereby foregoing income from thousands of potential ad clicks. Their policy prohibits advertisers from using third-party trademarks in ad copy. If you were to enter the search term ?World Cup 2014” you would find very few advertisements in the results. Instead, you will find Google’s OneBox, branded by FIFA’s logo and displaying mostly generic information. FIFA and it’s official sponsors and affiliates, however, may advertise these trademarks.