Pinney Talfourd LLP

Many fans will be using social media to show their support for their country by uploading images of their country’s flags and the World Cup logo as their profile pictures.

However, you may not be aware that by uploading the World Cup logo in your pictures on social media you could be infringing intellectual property rights owned by FIFA. During the previous World Cup in 2014 FIFA asked Twitter to notify over 100 users that they were using their trade mark without their consent and to have them remove the images.

FIFA owns a number of trademarks which include WORLD CUP 2018 and RUSSIA 2018, along with the logos and emblems. They include guidance on their website which clearly states that they will take enforcement against any unauthorised use.

Although this may appear harsh to the fan who simply wants to show their support, FIFA do make a very valid point when it comes to protecting their trademarks and their business.

Most of the funding for the World Cup is through sponsors who, in return for their sponsorship, are granted the use of the trade marks to state that they are official partners of the World Cup. If anyone was allowed to use the trade marks then the sponsors would have no reason to invest their funds.

Also, some of the trade marks are registered in other countries where the law differs to English or EU trademark laws. In the US, the courts have sometimes ruled that you can lose title to a trade mark if you fail to enforce against its infringement. They refer to this as “abandonment” of the trade mark.

So it is clear why FIFA and many other large companies continue to protect their trade marks so aggressively in this way, even against their own fans. If they didn’t then the companies and the events may well not exist at all as they wouldn’t be able to secure the funding.

"Whilst your own business may not generate the sponsorship opportunities of the World Cup it is still important to protect your assets." says Chloe Pannu, a corporate solicitor at Pinney Talfourd LLP. "If you require your own trade marks to be registered, to ensure that your intellectual property is best protected, then speak to a corporate lawyer as soon as possible."

Pinney Talfourd LLP is a leading law firm in Essex and London. Call their specialist corporate law department on 01708 229444 if you require advice on this issue.

PS. the image used in this article is courtesy of Shutterstock.

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Victoria Bunn
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