Trademark Protection: The FIFA World Cup

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Trademark Protection: The FIFA World Cup

The FIFA World Cup is starting today and while many fans are eager to watch the first match between Brazil and Croatia, behind the scenes is an entanglement of intellectual property issues. The Federation Internationale of Football Association (FIFA) released a manual, entitled the “2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil – FIFA Public Guidelines for Use of FIFA’s Official Marks”, on how businesses and individuals should deal with any IP related issues. The manual is 27 pages long and includes a section dedicated to the official marks of FIFA, examples of how to use the marks, and other general information.

In the manual, FIFFA states that any “unauthorized use of the Official Marks not only undermines the integrity of the FIFA World Cup and its marketing program, but also puts the interests of the worldwide football community at stake.” The manual lists the official marks, official emblem, official mascot, official slogan, official look element, the FIFA World Cup trophy, official poster, official fan fest logo, a list of protected terms and a variety of other words and marks that FIFA is aiming to protect. Of the protected terms, FIFA includes, World Cup, Brazil 2014, Soccer World Cup and more.

By releasing this manual and instructions on use, FIFA is making a very loud statement that they are very serious about defending their intellectual property and those who use any of their purported trademarks without proper authorization will be held accountable. In Europe, FIFA registered the “Brazil 2014” trademark in a variety of classes, which are not related to the World Cup goods or services, such as in the class for gas and electricity.

Registering trademarks which seem broad and descriptive in nature are generally not considered strong trademarks. If it were not for the sheer size for the FIFA organization, it is questionable whether or not these trademarks would have been approved. Additionally, without the cooperation of local officials, it may be difficult for FIFA to effectively police any of the trademarks listed in their manual.

This manual illustrates how much value an organization places on its intellectual property. Whether or not any of these trademarks are protectable, it is necessary to comprehensively protect a company’s intellectual property portfolio.