Major sporting events

Did you know there was a Major Sporting Events (Indicia and Images) Protection Bill 2014? (From which you may deduce that I didn’t). It was introduced into Parliament on 26 March 2014.

It is designed to provide protections for certain indicia associated with the upcoming:

  • Asian Football Championships to be held in Australia in 2015;
  • the ICC World Cup to be held in Australia and New Zealand in 2015; and
  • the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast,

against ‘ambush marketing’. As the EM states:

The Event owners have sought a commitment from the government to protect against the unauthorised commercial use of certain indicia and images associated with the respective events to help them secure and maintain event sponsorship.

If sponsors do not have certainty that they are the only businesses that can directly benefit from association with the Events, they may withdraw their sponsorship or decide not to support the Events. A decrease in sponsorship revenue could increase the need for financial assistance from the Australian Government and/or state and territory governments to stage the events.

The Bill has been modelled on the (now repealed) legislation for the protection of the Sydney Olympic games in 2000 (here and here) and the Melbourne Commonwealth Games in 2006.

As the Simplified Outline explains in clause 15:

Generally speaking, a person cannot use a major sporting event’s 5 protected indicia or images for commercial purposes during the 6 event’s protection period, unless the person is an official user for 7 the event (that is, either an event body or an authorised person for 8 the event).

The remedies provided include injunctions, damages, corrective advertising and a regime for Customs seizure.

Clause 14 explains that:

Doing any of the following is not alone sufficient to suggest the existence of a sponsorship arrangement, or the provision of other support, for the purposes of paragraph 12(1)(c):

(a) using protected indicia or images for the primary purpose of criticism or review;

(b) using protected indicia or images for the primary purpose of providing information, including through reporting news and 14 presenting current affairs.

Major Sporting Events (Indicia and Images) Protection Bill 2014

Explanatory Memorandum

Ambush Marketing DownUnder

The Government has published Frontier Economics’ review of the ambush marketing legislation provided by the Olympic Insignia Protection Act 1987 (Cth) and the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games (Indicia and Images) Protection Act 2005 (Cth) (the AML).

According to the Executive Summary, key points include:

  • The Review is of the opinion that the AML has provided tangible benefits to the organisers, and that these have a direct (although difficult to quantify) bearing on their ability to raise revenue from licensing. 
  • The AML appears to have provided greater clarity regarding the existence and scope of the organisers’ entitlements.
  • There doesn’t appear to have been many, if any, ‘blatant’ examples of ambush marketing  for some time.
  • Concerns were identified, particularly in the Olympic Insignia Protection Act, with the definition of ‘commercial purposes’ and the requirement to show that an accused use would be seen by a reasonable person as suggesting sponsorship like support.

While the review found the legislation largely working as intended, it did not some qualifications:

(1) whether apparent reductions in ambush marketing are due to factors outside the AML;

(2) whether NSOs and other peak bodies have been unduly hampered in their ability to attract their own sponsorships; and

(3) whether sufficient income generated from the rights granted under the AML has been returned to sport. 

Read the report here (pdf).