The clampdown comes amid dozens of brands across sectors including consumer goods, e-commerce, travel, gaming, hospitality and others firming up associations with the mega event.
“It is evident that many people are eager to use the ICC IPR (intellectual property rights) to boost their business activities by marketing their products in connection with the event. The ICC is aware of businesses seeking to gain an unauthorised association with the event,” the ICC or the International Cricket Council, wrote in detailed updates on its website.
ICC’s sponsors include MRF Tyres, Booking.com, Mastercard, Bira, Thums Up, Nissan, Oppo, Royal Stag and Dream 11. Sponsors on broadcasting partner Disney Star, on the other hand, include PhonePe, Mahindra & Mahindra, Dream11, HUL, Coca-Cola, Pernod, Booking.com and Diageo.
“The ICC names and marks cannot be used on goods, in business names or in advertising or promotions without a licence from the ICC. It is also unlawful to falsely represent or imply any association, affiliation, endorsement, sponsorship or similar relationship with the event,” the global cricketing body defined, adding that licence and authorisation will only be given to official sponsors, partners, licensees and non-commercial partners.
In the past, there have been high-profile examples of ambush marketing by brands, such as PepsiCo’s ‘nothing official about it’ campaign which stole the thunder from official World Cup sponsor Coca-Cola. According to ICC’s new guidelines, ads suggesting an association between a brand, product and service using ICC’s name, marks or footage without authorisation are not permitted. Besides, holding an event which uses these are not permissible. “This is particularly true of events that have commercial sponsors involved,” it said. Even creation of event-specific communities that use ICC names and seek to raise sponsorship and advertising amounts to commercial use of ICC IPR.The ICC has 20 sponsors and six global partners including IndusInd and MasterCard. According to industry estimates, the World Cup, which India is hosting entirely for the first time, could fetch the cricketing body $120-150 million through sponsorship fees.
The clampdown extends to ads stating or suggesting an association between a brand, product, service or event by using ICC, businesses that invite customers to World Cup themed events, and events that involve commercial sponsors.
While use of general cricket terms and imagery after getting appropriate permission from copyright owners is permissible, use of ICC names without licences in ads, promotions or events has been disallowed.
The tournament is scheduled to be played in India from 5 October to 20 November.
“If anyone could use the ICC IPR for free, or could create or suggest an association with the event, there would be no incentive for broadcasters, sponsors or other commercial partners or to invest in or support the event,” it said.
All official names, phrases, trademarks, trade names, logos and designs related to the tournament are protected by the law, and include the official logo, and words and phrases which use the term ICC.
The cricketing body said that before it initiates legal proceedings, suspected infringers may receive legal notices from ICC’s lawyers, advising the infringer of violations and unlicensed usage.
The guidelines add that if companies have infringed ICC’s rights, they could seek independent legal advice.
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