One of the world’s premier sporting events, the 2022 World Cup, begins on November 20, 2022. The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (“FIFA”) owns all rights related to the World Cup and diligently protects its World Cup trademarks and copyrights. Broadcast stations should be careful not to infringe on these intellectual property rights.
Use of FIFA Trademarks in Marketing or Advertisements
FIFA controls the marketing rights of all official World Cup emblems, trademarks, slogans, mascots, and terminology. FIFA licenses these marks exclusively to its official affiliates and sponsors. Unlicensed use of these marks for any purpose, including in the sale or promotion of any products, goods, or services, is unlawful and could expose a broadcaster and its clients to significant risks.
If a station and/or its clients attempt to create an association with the World Cup, they could be accused of “ambush marketing.” FIFA and its official sponsors could have legal claims against the station and/or its clients for trademark infringement, unfair competition, false advertising, and misappropriation of goodwill for infringing on official FIFA sponsorship rights.
FIFA has the exclusive right to control the marketing of the 2022 World Cup, including use of the phrases “FIFA,” “World Cup,” “FIFA World Cup,” “2022 FIFA World Cup,” “FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022,” and numerous other World Cup-related designations including the official tournament emblem, poster, and mascot (“Laʼeeb”). Unlicensed use of these trademarks for any purpose, including in the sale or promotion of any products, goods, or services, is unlawful. Without the permission of FIFA, these protected words and slogans (and related logos or designs) may not be used in marketing or promotions broadcast on a station or posted on a station’s website:
Stations may say or print the following phrases in a commercial or promotional context:
News Reporting on World Cup Matches
FIFA also holds property rights in the accounts and descriptions of the World Cup and sells the television and radio rights for the matches. FIFA can control the use of information about matches that are ongoing and for a reasonable period of time following the conclusion of each match. Once a match has concluded, stations can report the “news” of that match, such as the winner and the score. However, when reporting on World Cup events, FIFA official marks may not be used as an integral part of the layout of a webpage or on a recurring basis on a series of webpages.
FIFA and its officially licensed media outlets have the right to charge a fee for the use of match highlights. A station needs to obtain consent from FIFA or the appropriate rightsholder before using highlights of any match in a station newscast.
Unauthorized Distribution of World Cup Tickets
FIFA and its authorized agents are the only legal sources for World Cup tickets. Tickets generally may not be used for advertising or promotional purposes unless specifically authorized by or on behalf of FIFA, which means a station cannot conduct a promotion where tickets to the World Cup are awarded, even if the tickets were validly purchased by the station. If asked to run an advertisement that refers to a World Cup ticket promotion, a station should ask the advertiser to prove that it has secured the necessary rights to conduct the promotion.
If you have questions about broadcasts or promotions related to the World Cup, we encourage you to review the FIFA Intellectual Property Guidelines or to contact an attorney in our Media practice group.