As some of you may have noticed, one my esteemed colleagues, Jonathan Applebaum, recently wrote an entertaining and informative post regarding Major League Baseball Player Bryce Harper’s efforts to trademark the phrase, “That’s a clown question, bro.” This was just the most recent example of so called catch phrase trademarks where people have tried to
This little gem arrived yesterday, basically an email promotion for this weekend, featuring Randy Moss and celebrating his return to the Minnesota Vikings:
Of course, I’m thrilled too, that Randy Moss has returned to play ball in Minnesota, but that doesn’t mean we forget all about his legal rights (name, image, likeness, right of publicity, to name a few), not to mention the legal rights, trademarks, and trade dress of the Minnesota Vikings and the NFL.
By the way, the purported disclaimer at the bottom of the promotion saying: "All registered trademarks are the properties of their respective owners" doesn’t help either. Putting aside the unanswered question about any unregistered trademarks shown in the promotion, all this statement reveals is that Lions Tap knows it doesn’t own what it is using, and it begs the question of whether the necessary permission was obtained from the necessary owners.
To the extent my assumption is correct, that Lions Tap didn’t obtain the necessary license and permission to run the above promotion, it appears Lions Tap may have forgotten all the intellectual property law it sought to teach McDonalds earlier this year when it filed a suit for trademark infringement over the Who’s Your Patty tagline . . . .
–Susan Perera, Attorney
As promised, here are the ambush ads in direct competition with the FIFA sponsors shown yesterday.
Are these companies deceptively benefiting from these ads? Please share your thoughts.
–Susan Perera, Attorney
The World Cup has come to a close. Have you fallen into football withdrawal? Well don’t despair, I thought we could enjoy it a bit longer with a discussion of ambush marketing and some of the advertising campaigns that came out of this year’s championship.
Clearly, major sporting events are financed largely by sponsorships, which in turn, give sponsoring companies the opportunity to get some major face-time with fans. Sponsorship grants category exclusivity to one brand, allowing them to hold-off their competitors from associating with that event.
So if you have a major advertising budget, the question becomes do you sponsor, or do you ambush?
Whenever there is a major sporting event like the World Cup ambush ads begin to appear, bringing to mind the current sporting event without actually mentioning the event itself (or showing any protectable marks or images related to that event). Most consumers are unaware they have been ambushed and the advertiser reaps the benefit of appearing to be a sponsor. Recent trends have moved towards higher protection of these major events; however, there is currently no legal recourse for a well-articulated ambush marketing campaign.
Nike, for example, has often chosen against sponsoring large sporting events, instead blazing the trail on how to execute an effective ambush marketing campaign. Nike has gotten away with its clever ads for years, but as discussed in my earlier post that isn’t the case for everyone who tries this method.
So, is this underhanded? Maybe. Is it creative? I’d have to say, yes.
Do you think the high price tag for sponsorships at the World Cup or Olympics justify greater legal protection? Does your answer depend on who’s sponsoring and who’s ambushing. What if it is two major companies like Coca-Cola (a FIFA Partner) and Pepsi (unaffiliated)?
Now, what about when FIFA Sponsor Budweiser is ambushed by 36 women in orange dresses promoting the Dutch beer Bavaria? Should small-budget companies be held-off from any and all advertising? What are your thoughts?
After the jump, take a look at the advertising campaigns of some of FIFA’s sponsors and come back tomorrow to see their ambushers’ advertisements.
— Karen Brennan, Attorney
Well, even though the Vikings didn’t make it, I am still looking forward to the Super Bowl – for the commercials. I am sure I am not alone in my excitement. In fact, there are numerous Web sites dedicated to the best Super Bowl commercials, such as this one which chronicles…
Viking fans will recall the famous Purple People Eaters from the late 1960s through the late 1970s. The nickname arose for the defensive line of the Vikings from their purple jerseys and the popular Sheb Wooley song bearing that name. Although they went to four Super Bowls (unfortunately, not taking home a Super Bowl ring), the Purple…