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Legal to Use 'World Cup' in Ads, Social Media Posts?

By Brett Snider, Esq. | Last updated on

World Cup fever has many Americans in its grip, and your business' social media strategy may be able to capitalize on it.

But can you use the phrase "World Cup" in your ads and social media posts without FIFA, the organization behind the tournament, crying foul?

Here are a few tips on how to market to football (soccer) fans without worrying about legality:

  • Need legal advice on how your small business should operate? Consult with an experienced business attorney about your options.

Using 'World Cup' Name, Slogans, Logos

Just like the "Super Bowl," the phrase "World Cup" is trademarked by a giant sports association (FIFA), and your business could be in hot water for using it on any ads or social media promoting your business.

If you attempt to advertise "Bob's Sports Bar's World Cup 2014 Party" without paying FIFA for the license rights for "World Cup," you will be open to a trademark infringement suit.

In its official guide for public use of its marks, FIFA explains that the following marks are protected:

  • "World Cup" and "Brazil 2014" in about every combination and language;
  • The World Cup 2014 emblem (green and yellow hands grasping for each other to form an image similar to the World Cup trophy);
  • The official slogan, "All in one rhythm"; and
  • Images of the FIFA World Cup trophy.

With respect to social media, FIFA explicitly prohibits the use of these or other protected marks on Twitter or Facebook that create the impression that a page is related to the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

Some Creative Tips

The key to avoiding issues with trademark and unfair business practices is to craft ads or social media impressions in a way that would not give the consumer likelihood to be confused about your business' relation to FIFA or the World Cup.

While it may generate more views to use the hashtag #FIFAWorldCup2014 in your tweets and Facebook posts, you would essentially be using FIFA's protected mark without permission.

However, as suggested by ClickZ, FIFA cannot stop you from using more generic tags like #soccer, #Brazil, or #USvPOR. Avoid infringement while targeting a more focused audience by:

You can even make up your own hashtag; just make sure it isn't using one of FIFA's trademarks.

And one more thing: #GoUSA!

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