New law implemented to tackle ambush marketing at Euro 2004
In preparation for the United European Football Association (UEFA) Championship 2004 (commonly known as Euro 2004), the Portuguese government has enacted Decree Law 86/2004 to protect UEFA's EURO 2004 mark.
The Euro 2004 tournament, which lasts for about one month, will start in June and will take place in various cities across Portugal. The new law aims to tackle, among other things, ambush marketing that may occur prior to and during the tournament. Ambush marketing is a practice common to popular sporting and cultural events, and occurs where an advertiser that is not an official sponsor seeks to associate itself with an event, or just share in its publicity, without paying the event organizer for the right to do so. This practice is also a way of weakening a competitor's official sponsorship of an event, because the ambush marketer may also seek to confuse the buying public as to which company holds official sponsorship rights.
The new law prohibits unauthorized direct or indirect use of corporate names, trademarks or any other commercial signs linked with Euro 2004. It also bans all practices that may induce the public "into creating an association with the event or its sponsoring entities". Thus, the law is likely to apply to ambush marketing that (i) includes an element of deception, or (ii) misleads the public into believing that the ambush marketer is an official sponsor of the event.
The terms of the new law are quite wide and have the potential to cover a wide range of ambush marketing practices. However, some of the tactics employed by those involved in ambush marketing are very subtle, which could pose problems for the enforcement bodies charged with deciding what types of ambush marketing should be prohibited.
The Portuguese police have also indicated that they are ready to crack down on more traditional types of infringement, such as the sale of counterfeit products. The police have already made a number of arrests and they will intensify their efforts once the Euro 2004 tournament starts.
For a background discussion of ambush marketing, see Ambushing the ambushers.
Manuel Lopes Rocha, Barrocas & Alves Pereira, Lisbon
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