June 26, 2006

Ambush Marketing

Posted in football, funny law, marketing, passing off, sponsorship at 1:56 am by thelawthoughts

I had a discussion a while ago about the soccer balls painted on the nose cones of Lufthansa planes. Here is a further case of FIFA's over zealous anti-ambush marketing campaign.

Dutch fans were ordered to take off their pants before the Ivory Coast game, because they bore the logo of a beer company that wasn't an official sponsor.

I mean, seriously.


June 9, 2006

Captain Copyright

Posted in copyright, marketing, politics at 4:50 am by thelawthoughts

The IPKat put a link up the other day to a new superhero called Captain Copyright. Take a few minutes to have a look through this website and come back.

Done? Did you see the 'Story of Captain Copyright' comic? If you didn't, the superhero, wrote a comic when he was a child. The big bad 6th grade bully stole it, then sold it to everybody in the school corridor. Captain Copyright has dedicated his life to not letting the bullies win.

I think depicting people who use the work of others in this way is incredibly dangerous. They have exercises in the teachers section for 1st graders (6 year olds?). Stuffing this kind of propaganda down the throats of impressionable children is wildly irresponisble.

The concept was created because there was a gap in the ability to teach kids how copyright works. Even if you are in favour of copyright, it is terrible to present the ideas in such a slanted way. Yes, the infringer in this case was in the wrong. However, the loaded associations with bullies and rip off merchants is simply not fair. To associate infringers with bullies means that kids growing up with this stuff will not in future come to the concept with an open mind to decide what is best for society in terms of the balance of copyright.

I must admit, however, this is an incredibly visionary campaign from whoever thought it up.

World Cup Sponsorship

Posted in marketing, passing off, sponsorship, trade practices at 4:28 am by thelawthoughts

This photo, posted by The Trademark Blog, gives rise to an interesting question about sponsorship rights. Air Emirates are the official WC sponsor of FIFA, as I understand, and are grumpy at Lufthansa painting soccer balls on their nosecones.

The question I have is whether this creates any association in the minds of consumers about an association between Lufthansa and FIFA. I don't think it does. They aren't using the WC insignia on their planes, nor in their advertising, which in Australia is often protected by law (see Part 5A of the Commonwealth Games Arrangement Act 2001 (Vic) or the Olympic Insignia Protection Act 1987 (Cth) ). They are not really attempting to associate themselves with FIFA or any other directing agency involved in the World Cup. They are merely, well, cashing in on World Cup Fever.

There is no cause of action I can think of to be brought by a sponsor against Lufthansa. It is not passing off their product as that of FIFA's or Air Emirates'. The only action that might be possible is an action in misleading and deceptive conduct under s52 of the Trade Practices Act, or for false or misleading representations under s53. 

Whether either of these actions would get up is very difficult to say. The best thing about s52 is its broad scope. However, if you are trying to avoid a misleading and deceptive conduct action, you probably want to avoid saying things like this:

"People might think we are a sponsor," said Amelie Lorenz, a spokeswoman for Lufthansa, "but that's good for us."