German Court denies FIFA "World Cup" protection

The world football body, FIFA, has suffered a serious setback in the protection of its trademarks following a German federal court's decision denying its exclusive use of the name of the 2006 Finals. The Karlsruhe-based court rejected the world football body’s attempts to secure a patent on the German-language slogan “Fussball WM 2006” (Football World Cup 2006). The court based its decision on the fact that “Fussball WM 2006” referred to a sports event and not to a body such as FIFA. The ruling applies to 860 products and services from a range of companies, although the case was brought by just two firms.

Although the ruling covers products in Germany, it could have wider implications, AFP newsagency commented. "In theory, the ruling means that FIFA can no longer give sponsors assurances that other companies will not advertise with the slogans." Lawyers for FIFA had argued that the body were solely funded by marketing revenue. FIFA secretary-general Urs Linsi said many of FIFA’s 205 affiliated national football federations were financially supported by marketing revenue.