Monday, August 06, 2007

By Dr W Alberts
Proposed prohibitions by the government, to protect certain symbols, have received a considerable amount of attention in the media. These prohibitions can be found on the attached here. As can be seen, some marks were specifically created for the South African event. Others relate to earlier World Cup tournaments. The prohibitions will have a wide effect, as it will relate to any trade, business, profession, occupation or event. In this regard there has been criticism in the media, specifically relating to the prohibition of "2010", and "World Cup". The view has been expressed that many ordinary South Africans would want to associate themselves with the event in some manner, and that not all activities would cause confusion in the minds of consumers. Furthermore, it is felt that the term "World Cup" can relate to many sporting events, not necessarily soccer. On the other hand, FIFA needs to obtain revenue, and official sponsors will only commit significant funds if they can be guaranteed exclusive rights. As usual, the conflict will come to the fore in relation to clothing, and the difficult issue of where to draw the line will no doubt arise. The rules regarding ambush marketing would also have to be borne in mind. The government is in the position of being a referee, so to speak, and would have to weigh the different motivations carefully. Fortunately, the Minister has indicated that normal trade mark principles will be applied in the process. This will, hopefully, ensure a balanced outcome, and prevent the issuance of unnecessary red or yellow cards.

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