Trademark case upsets FIFA World Cup sponsors

Sponsors of this year’s football World Cup may seek compensation from FIFA after it lost a trademark protection case in Germany.

It is thought that some sponsors want at least part of their money back after the court ruled that football’s governing body could not claim exclusive rights to the slogans “WM 2006” (which translates as World Cup 2006), WM Deutschland (World Cup Germany) and Fussball WM Deutschland (Football World Cup Germany). The ruling, which was sought by confectioner Ferrero, means that other companies can now use the phrase as well.

FIFA had registered the phrases as trademarks to prevent them being used by companies that were not official sponsors. But it was ruled that Ferrero was allowed to use the slogan “Our Germany 2006 team” in its sticker collections for the World Cup.

FIFA grants its sponsors exclusive rights, but the ruling heavily devalues those – especially the six top-line domestic sponsors – which paid â¬13m (&£9m) for the privilege. It is understood that some sponsors are considering demanding a 20% reduction in their fees to compensate for the loss of exclusivity.

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