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Does It Make Sense That A Non-Official Advertiser Can't Give Away Sporting Events Tickets?

from the hard-to-see-why dept

Back in October, we wrote about how the Philadelphia Eagles were trying to stop radio stations from doing promotional giveaways of tickets they had legally purchased. The team basically claims that the terms (which no one reads nor technically "agrees" to) on the back of the ticket forbid such uses of the tickets. Instead, clearly, the Eagles wanted to sell the rights to do promotional giveaways. Now there's a similar lawsuit involving Major League Soccer and FIFA. JJ points us to a lawsuit in which the organization that handles marketing for both soccer organizations is quite upset at Black & Decker for doing ticket giveaway promotions. The reason why they're so upset? B&D competitor Makita is "the official power tool" of both soccer leagues in the US. In this case, they're arguing trademark infringement and breach of contract, though both seem questionable. If it's an accurate promotion, such that B&D is literally giving away legally purchased tickets and merchandise, then as long as it doesn't suggest endorsement from the soccer leagues, there shouldn't be much confusion. As for the breach of contract, if B&D never agreed to the contract, it's hard to see how they can be held to it.


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  1.  
    identicon
    Yo ho ho..., Dec 29th, 2009 @ 4:51am

    Beyond absurd...

    ... every time I think the RIAA is the kingpin of idiot agencies -- along comes the NFL to remind us how much a bigger ass they are....

    after all, these are the same guys who went to court to shut down a church's showing of the superbowl to the homeless.

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 29th, 2009 @ 5:15am

    The only way I'd go see a pro soccer game is if somebody gave me free tickets. Come to think of it, the only time I've ever seen a pro soccer game was when somebody gave me free tickets.

     

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  3.  
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    Chargone (profile), Dec 29th, 2009 @ 5:15am

    Re: Beyond absurd...

    ... hold on...

    ....

    ...

    What?

    .......

    that's like, built in lost money for no gain, right there.

    doesn't that, essentially, defeat the point in the whole exercise? :S

    morons

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Danny, Dec 29th, 2009 @ 6:26am

    What's with the whole "official ______ of the ______" deal anyway? Are there really enough people out there that will guy that product just because its the official whaterever of some sports league?

    Okay maybe if it were something related to the sport like shoes, power drinks, or clothing but how are power tools related to soccer?

    Okay nevermind I just answered my own question.

    The relation is that soccer is marketed to men and supposedly men and power tools go hand in hand. I guess...

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    no more, Dec 29th, 2009 @ 6:34am

    they gave me free movie tickets once

    and ill tell you i never felt more humilitated in my life
    im on welfare
    have to share my net cause of cost
    and when i finished top of the class seminar for interview skills
    they gave me a 10$ movie card

    A) i went on cheap tuesday 4$ so i could have 6$ for pop n popcorn
    THEY said didn't matter and took the whole amount
    i hadn't the money for pop n popcorn it would seem despite there thievery anyhow ....17.07 with 1$ savings!!! - 16.07
    then they had people stare and watch me everywhere i went and watch me the whole time i sat in the show


    B) justice it would seem came for them as they stared at me yet some kid came into the place sat what 10 seats away and cammed the entire film HAHA

     

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  6.  
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    Palmyra (profile), Dec 29th, 2009 @ 7:31am

    Major League Soccer and FIFA - Ha Ha HA

    This adds new meaning to "They can't even give their tickets away" here in the US.

     

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  7.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Dec 29th, 2009 @ 7:33am

    Re: they gave me free movie tickets once

    I don't mean to be rude, but I have just absolutely no effing idea what in the sweet jesus pleasus you are babbling about....

    I made a sustained effort to read through to the end of your post, but my only reward was for my eyeballs to pop out of their sockets and proclaim that they are taking their seeing ability elsewhere....

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    The Anti-Mike, Dec 29th, 2009 @ 7:36am

    The implied endorsement is always there

    If it's an accurate promotion, such that B&D is literally giving away legally purchased tickets and merchandise, then as long as it doesn't suggest endorsement from the soccer leagues, there shouldn't be much confusion.

    The implied endorsement is always there. The use of the name of the league, the team, and all that goes with it is there. Remember, this isn't a promote for the league (they do get some bonus exposure), it is a promotion for B&D.

    B&D could have done it by being generic "buy one of our great power tool, and win tickets to a major sporting event in your area" or similar. If they mention the team, the league, whatever, it immediately creates the impression that there is an endorsement.

    Remember, it isn't up to B&D to decide what kind of promotion (even free) that the soccer league gets. That choice is up to the soccer league only.

    Sorry Mike, but this is another obvious one that you don't seem to get.

     

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  9.  
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    kryptonianjorel (profile), Dec 29th, 2009 @ 8:12am

    Re: The implied endorsement is always there

    Oh please. B&D has no need to be generic about their sporting tickets they're giving away. I wouldn't bother entering their contest or anything if I didnt know what the tickets were.

    Haven't you heard of the First Sale Doctrine, and how that trumps all of this bullshit contract law? If B&D buys these tickets, they can do whatever they want to do with them. They need to be able to tell the people what the goods (in this case tickets) are. Its not trademark or copyright infringement or anything of the sort as long as B&D is not misrepresenting the tickets.

    If people couldn't advertise what they're selling or giving away, ebay and craigslist would have been shut down looooooong ago.

    And promotion is not some sort of right, as you seem to claim. The soccer league can't prevent newspapers from covering it, tv from insulting it, or techdirt from bashing it.

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 29th, 2009 @ 8:17am

    Re: The implied endorsement is always there

    Funny, but you seem to be the only one who "gets" it. There's no implied endorsement. The league doesn't have exclusive use of its name, or control of it, as long as that use is descriptive in nature. In the case of the Eagles's tickets, it did seem like the radio station was implying a connection between the team and the station that didn't exist. However, to give tickets away and say "to an NFL game", is not a breach of trademark or anything else, except possibly an unenforceable (and probably illegal as well) "license" printed on the ticket. If it IS an NFL game, then there's no restrictions on SAYING it's an NFL game, as long as you're not implying that you're connected to the NFL. Last time I checked, anyone (including corporations) can buy the tickets.

     

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  11.  
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    Paul Alan Levy (profile), Dec 29th, 2009 @ 8:20am

    Implied endorsement by whom?

    What is worrisome about this lawsuit is that although the complaint does allege that the purpose of the marketing ploy was to imply that the teams in question had endorsed Black and Decker, it seems just as likely that Black and Decker was trying to show its fealty to the team.

    Back in the 70's, anybody could make up a shirt that said New York Yankees or New York Giants on it, and then wear it or sell it. The folks wearing those shirts didn't care one whit about whether the Yankees or Giants made the shirt or had taken a cut of the shirt-makers' revenue. But MLB and NLF started filing lawsuits claiming that fans would automatically assume that the Yankees or Giants had endorsed or at least approved of the shirt sellers, and by winning a couple of cases, they created a new rule of law -- you can't sell shirts showing support for a team without paying the team off.

    I'd hate to see another expansion of team owners' monopoly on displays of support for their teams.

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Peter, Dec 29th, 2009 @ 8:32am

    Re: Re: The implied endorsement is always there

    Not true. It is scalping by B&D. Because you are paying for them. If you fil out a registration that is worth money to B&D who sells the lists for big bucks over and over. So by registering you are buying a chance to get the tickets. Thus B&D is making money. That is Scalping and that is illegal. It says so right on the tickets.

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Simple Answer, Dec 29th, 2009 @ 8:32am

    Then don't give away tickets to their games, give away something else.

    Does General Electric send out nastygrams to banks when they give away free toasters ?

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 29th, 2009 @ 8:38am

    Re: The implied endorsement is always there

    so you are saying you aren't allowed to give away a product that you purchased with your own money?

    i understand why the soccer league is not happy about B&D since what they are doing makes it less appealing for Makita to sponsor them but there is no case here.

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Vincent Clement, Dec 29th, 2009 @ 9:02am

    Re: The implied endorsement is always there

    Remember, this isn't a promote for the league (they do get some bonus exposure), it is a promotion for B&D.

    Well then, the professional sporting leagues better get after season ticket holders who use their tickets to attract and/or reward clients.

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Vincent Clement, Dec 29th, 2009 @ 9:05am

    Re: Re: The implied endorsement is always there

    In the scheme of things, Makita shouldn't care. After all, B&D is paying for someone to attend a game that will have Makita advertising all over the place.

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    PRMan, Dec 29th, 2009 @ 9:29am

    Re: Re: Re: The implied endorsement is always there

    ^ This

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 29th, 2009 @ 9:36am

    Re: Implied endorsement by whom?

    ...it seems just as likely that Black and Decker was trying to show its fealty to the team.

    Absolutely, by allegedly telling the ticket sales personnel, after being rebuffed trying to purchase tickets for running a promo, that the tickets were for the personal use of B&D employees as a part of the company's employee appreciation day.

    Quite frankly, I was a bit surprised to not see a COA for tortious interference with prospective contractual advantage.

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    The Anti-Mike, Dec 29th, 2009 @ 10:04am

    Re:

    Does General Electric send out nastygrams to banks when they give away free toasters ?

    No, and the bank doesn't try to imply that they somehow have a relationship with GE either. They give away a "free toaster", nothing more and nothing less.

    If B&D gave away major league event tickets they wouldn't have an issue. Using the team name and such implies a relationship which is not there.

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Lance, Dec 29th, 2009 @ 10:11am

    Normally I agree with Mike...

    but this time you are a bit off. While in principle I agree that a radio contest to give away tickets should not offend a trademark or license, the station went to far. If you look at the complaint that is linked in Mike's original article on the subject, you will see that actual promotional material used by the broadcaster. They are using the tickets as part of their "score a touchdown for your business" advertising push. The material has the Eagles logo on it and is clearly implying a connection between the entities. This goes far beyond a simple "be caller number 'x' and win tickets to the Eagles game" promo.

     

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  21.  
    icon
    KevinJ (profile), Dec 29th, 2009 @ 10:31am

    Re: Re:

    "If B&D gave away major league event tickets they wouldn't have an issue."

    Last time I checked, that's what you do in a "giveaway", you give away something (like major league event tickets).

    "Using the team name and such implies a relationship which is not there."

    Some one else asked this earlier and you didn't respond, so I will ask again. If they are describing what the tickets are for, why should they avoid naming the teams or the league involved? Are we not allowed to even mention the names of the teams or the league anymore?

     

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  22.  
    icon
    slander (profile), Dec 29th, 2009 @ 12:02pm

    Re:

    Okay maybe if it were something related to the sport like shoes, power drinks, or clothing but how are power tools related to soccer?

    Okay nevermind I just answered my own question.

    The relation is that soccer is marketed to men and supposedly men and power tools go hand in hand. I guess...

    But if you put the emphasis on "tools" you get a different answer...

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 29th, 2009 @ 2:18pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: The implied endorsement is always there

    that is a very good point Vincent, when i posted above i hadn't thought of that.

    perhaps some1 should explain this to the league.

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Wow - what a deal, Dec 29th, 2009 @ 5:16pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Hello out there
    WKRP is giving out free tickets to the first 10 callers
    We are not allowed to tell you what the tickets are for
    .....
    We are waiting at he phones folks

     

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  25.  
    icon
    The Anti-Mike (profile), Dec 29th, 2009 @ 8:24pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    Yawn.

    Radio stations give away tickets with permission (and are often either paid to give them away or make other in kind trade deals to get them).

    So, sorry, you fail. Would you like to try again?

     

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  26.  
    icon
    KevinJ (profile), Dec 30th, 2009 @ 6:45am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    "Radio stations give away tickets with permission"

    So, if I have tickets for a game, I can't give them away because I don't have permission? /sarcasm

    And you didn't answer my earlier questions. Why, if they are describing the tickets, are they disallowed from using the names of the teams or the sports league? Is using those names in a descriptive manner somehow an infringement of trademark? And if it is infringement, I guess all media coverage should stop because they're using the names descriptively too, right?

     

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