The England and Wales Cricket Board ‘ECB’ has trademarked key-terms relating to the upcoming Ashes test series against Australia, in an attempt to kerb ambush-marketing by non-sponsors.
Rising to prominence in last summer’s Olympic Games, ambush-marketing is where a non-sponsor attempts to make financial gain by associating themselves to an event or competition.
LOCOG described its brand for London 2012 as 'its most valuable asset', a factor that is also true for many other events.
The Value of Exclusive Sponsorship
Without the funding provided by sponsors, many organisers would not be able to provide the funding for events to take place, including the Olympics.
Sponsors that put forward funding for exclusive marketing and advertising rights, expect to receive a significant advantage over their competition during the event. However, ambush marketing reduces this advantage and, in turn, reduces the value of the sponsorship to the sponsors.
An Olympic Challenge
LOCOG dealt with ambush marketing at the Olympics by means of the Olympic Delivery Authority, which managed advertising regulations and street trading.
Through the legislative mechanism established for this purpose, LOCOG employed trademarking, enforcement officials and the assistance of the metropolitan police to prevent infringement of sponsors’ rights.
Defensive Play by the ECB
The Ashes are a lower-key affair than the Olympics but the ECB aim to deal with ambush-marketing in a similar way though trademarking key terms such as "Ashes Cricket 2013" or "Old Trafford Ashes"; meaning non-sponsors found using these terms could face legal action.
Although legal recourse has been available to sponsors in the past, this is the first time that a governing body has worked with its sponsors and promoters to help protect the events from non-sponsor ambush-marketing in this way.
As the ECB has trademarked these key-terms, it should have the effect of increasing the appeal and value of sponsorship. The trademark enforcement route means that the risk of ambush-marketing and the compromising of sponsorship investment are significantly reduced. Commercially, sponsors are more likely to be willing to pay a premium if they think their rights are well protected. This in turn will benefit the organising body, through increases in sponsorship revenue.
A Reasonable Approach to Protecting Sponsorship
Whilst it is important to ensure that sponsor’s interests are protected, it is also important to strike a balance between reasonable restriction and an over-zealous inhibition of local and national businesses. Overly aggressive action against small local businesses could easily tip over into negative consumer feedback.
For more information about protecting your intellectual property rights or avoiding infringement, please contact James Crichton via e-mail email@example.com or by telephone on 0207 611 4848.