South Africa Designates the 2010 FIFA World Cup as a Protected Event
International sports events provide entertainment for millions of fans world-wide. As business ventures they can generate revenues amounting to billions of dollars and so it is vital that intellectual property rights in terms of branding enjoy proper protection. A case in point is the FIFA World Cup.
On the 25th of May 2006, the Minister of Trade and Industry published a notice in the Government Gazette, designating the 2010 FIFA World Cup as a protected event in terms of Section 15A of the Merchandise Marks Act. This protection will remain in force from the date of publication of the notice until six calendar months have elapsed after the commencement of the World Cup event.
The protected event status is conferred on the World Cup on the basis that the World Cup is in the public interest and on the understanding that the Local Organising Committee (LOC) has created opportunities for South African businesses, in particular those from previously disadvantaged communities. When evaluating suppliers, the LOC shall apply:
the Preferential Procurement Policy Framework Act;
the codes of good practice for Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment, as laid down by the Department of Trade and Industry; and
the principles of fair procedure as laid down in administrative law.
The effect of this notice is that in South Africa, for the period during which protection is granted, no person may use a trade mark in relation to the World Cup (in a manner which is calculated to achieve publicity for that trade mark and thereby derive special promotional benefit from the event) without the prior authority of the organizer. Prohibited use of a trade mark includes:
Any visual representation of the trade mark upon, or in relation to, goods or the rendering of services;
Any audible reproduction of the trade mark in relation to goods or the rendering of services; and
The use of the trade mark in promotional activities, which in any way, directly or indirectly, are intended to be brought into association with or allude to this event.
Any person who contravenes the Merchandise Marks Act will be guilty of an offence. In the case of a first conviction, the offender will be liable, to a fine not exceeding R5 000 (US$ 800) for each article to which the offence relates, or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding three years, or to both a fine and imprisonment. In the case of repeated offences, the maximum fine is set at R10 000 (US$1600) for each article to which the offence relates, and the maximum period of imprisonment is set at five years, again with the option of both a fine and imprisonment.
Whenever any person is convicted of this type of offence, the court may, in addition to imposing any other penalty, order the confiscation of all or any part of the goods in respect of which the offence was committed. Confiscated goods will be disposed of as directed by the Minister.