Can FIFA stop my promotion?

28 May, 2010

Q I’m planning to run promotions this summer with a World Cup theme, suggesting drinks from participating countries and offering beer discounts on days when England are playing, for example. Is it true that FIFA could stop me from doing this???A FIFA, as the governing body for world football and organiser of the World Cup, sells sponsorship packages for an awful lot of money, which helps it pay for international football events. Understandably, it wants to protect the World Cup “brand” and justify the millions of pounds it charges its commercial partners.

So, without the written permission of FIFA, companies are not allowed to use its logo or anything relating specifically to the World Cup, such as 2010, FIFA, World Cup, soccer, football, South Africa or any combination of these words.

FIFA’s lawyers are particularly wary of “ambush marketing”, where companies try to imply some kind of official partnership with the World Cup where none exists.

Mark Kingsley-Williams, director of Trade Mark Direct (, says: “For all businesses, large and small, the World Cup presents a tremendous opportunity.

“FIFA’s protection of its brand is extremely tight and any business that plans to capitalise on the World Cup needs to ensure they are aware of what they can and can’t say. Whether you’re planning a themed event or promotional offer, make sure you know what words and phrases FIFA has trademarked so you don’t land yourself in hot water.”?For independent retailers, the risks of being hounded by FIFA for a chalkboard bearing a drawing of the World Cup trophy, or a window display featuring the flags of all competing nations, are pretty negligible. But you can be sure that larger retailers, such as supermarkets, will be watched carefully to ensure they don’t overstep the line.

Good luck with your promotion. Presumably you’ve got an order in for Nigerian Guinness? Unfortunately we haven’t been able to find you an importer of Algerian wine.

Q We have a new EPOS system which prompts us to enter the approximate age of the person we are serving every time we sell alcohol. Further to the answer you provided on April 16, does this mean we still have to operate a refusals book???A It seems the electronic system is, in many respects, at least as good as a regular refusals book – probably better, given that a busy sales assistant doesn’t have to break off to fill in an entry by hand. It sounds like you’re logging every transaction you make, and will have an automatic record of the time and date.

However, it doesn’t sound as if it’s capable of logging transactions that you don’t make, when children are turned away. It’s essential that these are recorded somewhere, so you should either talk to the EPOS provider to find if there is a way of doing this, or keep an old-fashioned refusals book, and make sure all your staff understand the importance of keeping it up to date.

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