Convergences and Development
European Intellectual Property Institutes Network series
Edited by Nari Lee, Guido Westkamp, Annette Kur and Ansgar Ohly
Chapter 7: Ambush marketing: Examining the development of an event organizer right of association
Corporate sponsorship has been deemed essential for staging international sporting mega-events. As such, it is not surprising that mega-event organizers (MEOs), in particular the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), have done everything in their power to act in accordance with corporate sponsor requests for greater protection of multi-million dollar sponsorship investments. Over the course of the past 25 years, these efforts have borne considerable fruit: most notably the introduction of unusually strong trademark protection for Olympic symbols in numerous countries. Despite such developments in the field of sponsorship investment protection, MEOs and their sponsors continue to be displeased with the state of the law concerning a variety of advertising practices commonly lumped together and referred to as "ambush marketing." From their perspective, deficiencies in the respective national trademark and unfair competition regimes inhibit MEOs from stopping the "free-riding" done by ambush marketers. As a consequence, MEOs have pushed hard for enactment of an event organizer right of association in countries or cities hoping to play host to an international sporting mega-event. This chapter seeks to identify the potential impact of MEO efforts to expand national trademark and unfair competition systems to include an event organizer right of association.
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