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Protection from ambush marketing

The key protections in the MEMA for events that have been declared to be major events are prohibitions against:

  • representations that create an unauthorised association between the event and a brand, good or service
  • unauthorised advertising and street trading within declared 'clean' areas around major event venues and transport routes to venues.

The MEMA allows the declaration of key event emblems and words, the use of which without authority may be presumed to be in breach of the prohibition against unauthorised association with the event.

The MEMA also provides for a prohibition of the on-sale of tickets to major events for more than their original sale price; and a prohibition on unauthorised persons going onto the playing surface of a major sporting event, or propelling any object onto that playing surface.

 

The commercial protection

Event words and emblems

In addition to the declaration of an event as a 'major event', the Act makes provision for the declaration of emblems and words to be 'major event' emblems and words. This is to provide protection for the key event logos, trademarks and names. Event organisers considering applying for major event status should also consider what event emblems and words should be protected.

Before recommending the declaration of emblems and words to be 'major event' emblems and words, the Minister must also take into account the extent to which, in relation to the major event, emblems and words require protection in order to:

  • obtain maximum benefits for New Zealanders
  • prevent unauthorised commercial exploitation at the expense of either a major event organiser or a major event sponsor.

 

Clean zones and transport routes

The Act also gives the Minister for Economic Development the ability to declare 'clean zones' around major event venues, and 'clean transport routes' leading to the venues. There are restrictions on unauthorised advertising and street trading within these areas. Before declaring clean zones or clean transport routes the Minister must take into account the extent to which, in relation to the major event, clean zones and clean transport routes are required in order to:

  • obtain maximum benefits for New Zealanders
  • prevent unauthorised commercial exploitation at the expense of either a major event organiser or a major event sponsor.

Event organisers should consider whether it is necessary for clean zones and clean transport routes to be declared in relation to their event - and if so the possible location and extent of these zones.

 

Enforcement

The MEMA includes civil and criminal enforcement measures to ensure the efficient and effective enforcement of ambush marketing protections. It also makes provision for government-appointed enforcement officers to police the declared clean zones and address immediate incidents of ambush marketing as they occur. Enforcement officers are empowered under the Act to:

  • issue formal warnings to ambush marketers
  • seize offending material (for example, scalped tickets or material such as flags or t-shirts being sold in the clean zone without authorisation)
  • obscure offending material (for example, billboards or signs in the clean zone or visible from the clean zone).

During a clean period, unauthorised advertising – unless it is by an existing business honestly carrying out its ordinary activities – is prohibited within the clean zones and anywhere clearly visible from within the clean zone.

To find out more about what a business can and should not do when planning promotional and business activities to coincide with a ‘major event' refer to A Guide to the Major Events Management Act 2007 [3.4 MB PDF].

It is intended to provide an overview of the purpose of the MEMA, in particular, the Guide provides clarity on how to avoid breaching the MEMA through the unauthorised use of the major events emblems and words, which would suggest an official association with the event that does not exist.

Note: As it is not possible to address every situation in this Guide, these examples are intended to provide general guidance only. If you have any concerns about the application of the MEMA in a particular situation, please seek legal advice.

 

Last updated 4 April 2017