Fifa bid to patent World Cup faces legal threat

Fifa’s bid to register the words “world” and “cup” as trademarks at the Patents Office risks legal action from the Institute of Sales Promotion (ISP).

The sales promotion trade body claims the move is a restraint of trade, and is currently drafting a complaint with its lawyers. The body has until June 25 to submit its paper.

However, if the Patents Office rejects this, the ISP will consider legal action.

The ISP fears that if the words are patented, its members will be restricted from using them for commercial purposes in promotions.

Fifa, the governing body for world football, is acutely aware of the commercial value of the World Cup. It charges its top ten official sponsors 28m each for the right to be involved with the tournament.

ISP secretary general Susan Short says: “We will seriously consider taking legal action if this is passed by the Patents Office. We may have to raise an extra levy from our members if we to go to court.”

Short adds: “These words are in the public domain, and it is not common sense for them to try to copyright them. We will argue that it is not fair industrial practice.”

The ISP says that if this trademark is accepted, it could affect almost half of its 2,400 members, which include sales promotion agencies as well as clients such as Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble, and Unilever. The ISP estimates the move, if passed, could cost well over 2m in lost revenues.

Short says: “The move creates a dangerous precedent. If this gets through, then other sports competitions will do the same. That will make effective sales promotion around these world events impossibly difficult.”

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here