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Court’s Ad Ruling Upsets FIFA Sponsors

Posted April. 29, 2006 06:36,   


“Any entities can use the phrase “WM 2006” (2006 World Cup) or “Fußball WM 2006” (2006 Soccer World Cup) in Germany.”

With only 45 days to World Cup 2006 Germany, the German Federal Court’s ruling on April 27 has upset the official sponsors and competing corporations alike.

A German court ruled on a lawsuit the confectionary maker Ferrero and two other companies filed against the International Football Federation, saying, “The two phrases are customary, and not to be taken as referring to a certain event; therefore the court does not recognize the exclusive right to the use of phrases as claimed by FIFA and its business partners. The German phrase WM (Weltmeisterschaft) stands for “world championship,” and has much broader use than the English term “world cup,” which is usually reserved for soccer and a few other sports events.

Ferrero has been having friction with FIFA regarding the stickers they put on some of their sweets that have photos of soccer stars and the phrase “WM” on them. The German Press Agency (DPA) reports that the recent ruling has left official sponsors such as Gillette, Adidas and their competitors puzzled.

Copyright attorney Hansdatter Beber remarked that the issue will not likely be freshly addressed in other countries before the opening of the World Cup. “The current ruling is only effective in Germany. In order for it to take effect in Europe as a whole, the European Union Court in Luxemburg must rule upon the issue,” said Beber.

Fifteen corporate sponsors, including Hyundai Motors, have donated a total of 750 million Euros to this year’s World Cup.

Yoon-Jong Yoo gustav@donga.com