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Mind Your P’s and Q’s When Marketing During The RWC 2011

Using certain words in your marketing material during the RWC 2011 could cost you dearly!

Our Kiwi readers will be well aware that the Rugby World Cup is being held in New Zealand from 9 September through to 23 October 2011. It’s going to be an exciting time for rugby in New Zealand and we know the tourism industry and other businesses will want to make the most of the opportunity to leverage off this event. But you need to be careful!

The Major Events Marketing Act 2007 (the MEMA) was passed in parliament almost entirely in preparation for the Rugby World Cup 2011 (RWC 2011) to prevent unauthorized commercial exploitation at the expense of the event organizer or its official sponsors. And if you want to avoid a potential fine of up to $150,000, you’d better make sure you know what the rules are.

The MEMA has already been used for the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in 2008; the FIBA U-19 World Championship in 2009; the U-19 Cricket World Cup in 2010 and the upcoming World Rowing Championships to be held in November 2010. But the main test for the MEMA will be during RWC 2011.

The MEMA applies to any commercial activity that could be connected to RWC 2011 – such as marketing activities (including email marketing), shop window dressing and fundraising activities – it even impacts how you advertise your house for rent over that period.

Each major event is provided with an Order specifying the period of time that the event is protected. For RWC 2011, the protection period runs from 11 September 2008 and through to 21 November 2011, so you may already be infringing the order without even knowing it!

There is a long list of words and emblems that are off-limits during the protection period of the RWC 2011 including the use of generic and descriptive words. For example, RUGBY WORLD CUP, WORLD CUP 2011, RWC, RUGBY NEW ZEALAND 2011, RUGBY WORLD CUP TOURNAMENT, WEBB ELLIS CUP and use of logos including illustrations of the Webb Ellis Cup. Check these links for a complete list of the words and emblems you must avoid.

So, if you’re in tourism, or want to leverage the influx of activity and tourists in your region to make more money during that time, you’d better be minding these p’s and q’s. Do your homework, and you could save yourself from a lot of grief.

If you are wondering how we got around using these ‘words that must be avoided’ in this Blog, there are some exemptions to the restrictions (see Page 6 of the MEMA). One of these exemptions includes the use of these words for the purposes of reporting news and information.

Editors Note: Thanks for your contribution on this article Elena.
Elena Szentivanyi is a registered patent attorney in both New Zealand and Australia and a registered trade mark attorney in Australia. Elena specialises in the selection, clearance and protection of trade marks and other IP in New Zealand and beyond. 

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