Fifa Intellectual Property Guidelines; Much ado about everything

IVAN OJAKOL 

What you need to know:

According to Fifa, its rights holders invest substantial sums to ensure that the tournament is staged successfully, and accordingly, the tournament brands must be protected aggressively to ensure that it continues getting enough funding to arguably organize the world's greatest show. Rights-holders are normally given exclusive rights.

This column has in the recent past opined on the Intellectual Property around the Fifa World Cup but a discussion on Intellectual Property and the World Cup would not be complete without a somewhat deep-dive into the specific legal instrument, “The Fifa World Cup Qatar 2022 Fifa Intellectual Property Guidelines” developed by Fifa to guide the use of its official Intellectual Property assets regarding the World Cup. Of course, this also answers the rhetorical question of “Who owns the World Cup?”

The said Guidelines point to one thing-FIFA owns all the rights to the Fifa World Cup and only Fifa Rights-holders are permitted to use Fifa’s Intellectual Property for commercial purposes.

According to Fifa, its rights holders invest substantial sums to ensure that the tournament is staged successfully, and accordingly, the tournament brands must be protected aggressively to ensure that it continues getting enough funding to arguably organize the world's greatest show. Rights-holders are normally given exclusive rights.

Some of Fifa’s protected brands as per the Guidelines include; “World Cup 2022”, “FifaWorld Cup, Qatar 2022”,Mundial”,World Cup”, the official logo, the Fifa corporate mark, the official Mascot, the official slogan, among others.

Fifa grants rights such as ticketing, broadcasting, hospitality, advertising, and other promotional activities to various rights holders. These Rights-holders are divided into; commercial affiliates, media rights licensees, and branded/unbranded licensees.

Commercial affiliates are divided into three tiers-Fifa partners such as Coca-Cola, Hyundai, and Visa; Fifa World Cup sponsors that include the likes of Budweiser and Hisense; and Regional supporters-a total of  20 countries with four per region who have advertising, promotional, and marketing rights regarding the World Cup for a specific region. QNB and GWC are Regional supporters for instance in Africa and the Middle East. Media rights licensees have rights over TV, radio, broadband, IPTV, and mobile transmission rights. I have been streaming through Fox, a media licensee whenever I cannot access a television.

Branded/Unbranded licensees are a group that Fifa grants the rights to manufacture, develop and sell products bearing FIFA official Wold Cup marks. These include companies in the hospitality industry-MATCH Hospitality AG has worldwide exclusive hospitality rights.

Fifa also creates something controversial in what it terms as “legitimate ways” of celebrating the tournament. Basically, warning fans not to “create an undue commercial association" by using the official World Cup Intellectual Property in a way that creates a false impression that they are sponsors or licensees as far as the tournament is concerned. This is aimed at curbing ambush marketing, the bane of many sports tournaments.

Fifa only allows the media to use its official Intellectual Property for only editorial purposes as long as it does not provide an unauthorized business association with the tournament. Blogs, websites, and the use of Fifa's domain names are also only permitted to use Fifa brands when it is non-commercial.

As far as social media is concerned, fans are allowed to use FIFA’s official Intellectual Property as long as it passes the test of non-commercial use or does not create the impression of association with the World Cup. So, retweeting and using hashtags is allowed for non-commercial purposes. A sports journalist was ranting this week through Twitter that he had received a warning from Fifa over this.

Fifa even attempts to regulate “public viewing events” regarding the World Cup. They came up with the “Fifa World Cup Qatar 2022 Regulations for Public Viewing Events” which in essence ban the commercialization of such events by the exhibitors who for example charge admission fees or gain commercially from them in whatever form. Doesn't this more or less ban our "make-shift video halls" that are currently broadcasting the World Cup in our villages?

Fifa is in a nutshell saying that we own the World Cup.

Ojakol is a Sports Lawyer, Partner at Matrix Advocates,

and Lecturer at IUEA

[email protected]

Contacts: 0791683986/0787261019



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