Rugby League World Cup 2017 given special protection under MEMA

Businesses need to take care leveraging opportunities from the upcoming Rugby League World Cup 2017. The Rugby League World Cup has special protection under NZ law, prohibiting a lot of marketing activity unless you are an official event sponsor or are authorised by the event organiser.

You may recall from our previous news alert earlier this year on the Major Events Management Act (MEMA) that MEMA prevents parties that are not official sponsors from advertising or otherwise promoting their goods or services in a manner that suggests they are associated with the major event.

The Rugby League World Cup has been declared a major event by the Major Events Management (Rugby League World Cup 2017) Order 2016 (Rugby League World Cup Order). The Rugby League World Cup Order applies until 1 January 2018. It is available here.

The major event organiser is Rugby League World Cup 2017 Limited (Organiser).

Ambush marketing by association under MEMA

You are prohibited from making a representation in a way likely to suggest to a reasonable person that there is an association between the Rugby League World Cup and:

  • goods or services
  • a brand of goods or services
  • a person who provides goods or services

This extends to any person who:

  • pays for, commissions, or authorises the representation
  • receives consideration for the placement or the location of the representation

Certain words and this logo are declared “major event words” and the “major event emblem”. Their use is a presumed breach of MEMA. Protection extends to words or emblems so closely resembling them that use is likely to confuse or deceive a reasonable person.

Qualifying words like “unauthorised”, “unofficial”, or similar do not change the position.

The following are prohibited major event words for the Rugby League World Cup:

  • League World Cup
  • Paul Barrière Trophy
  • Rugby League World Cup

The words in Column A are prohibited major event words if used in combination with words in Column B:

Column A Column B
RLIF 2017
RLWC Broadcaster
Rugby League International Federation Caterer
Hospitality agent
Hospitality partner
Licensed product
Retail agent
Ticketing agent
Ticketing partner
Travel partner
World Cup championship
World Cup hospitality
World Cup licensed
World Cup nation
World Cup qualifier
World Cup retailer
World Cup ticketing
World Cup travel

The prohibited major event emblem for the Rugby League World Cup is seen here.

The prohibition extends to different colours and also to its use without the words or figures.

Exceptions include:

  • the prior written authorisation of the Organiser is obtained
  • the representation is the personal opinion of a person and is not made for commercial gain
  • the representation is made in accordance with honest practices in industrial or commercial matters, and:

1) the protected major event emblem or word comprises part or all of the proper name of:

a) town, road, or place in New Zealand

b) the legal or trade name of the person making the representation (unless used to defeat the intention of MEMA)

c) is an existing registered trade mark

2) the representation is necessary to indicate the intended purpose of a good or service

3) the representation is made by an existing organisation that is continuing to carry out its ordinary activities

4) the representation is made for the purposes of reporting news, information, criticism, or a review in a newspaper, magazine, or by means of television, radio, film, or the Internet. This exception does not apply to ‘advertorial’ style use.


Ambush marketing by intrusion under MEMA

The Clean Zones for the Rugby League World Cup, and specified clean periods are available here.

Clean zones:

  • do not include private land and buildings within the area
  • do include billboards (even if the billboard is on private land or buildings)

Unless written authorisation is obtained from Organiser, during a clean period MEMA prohibits:

  • street trading in a clean zone. Street trading means:
    • selling
    • hawking
    • giving away goods

But excludes operating an existing business out of existing permanent premises of that business;

  • advertising in a clean zone
  • advertising that is clearly visible from anywhere within a clean zone

There are very limited exceptions to the prohibition on advertising in a clean zone during a clean period.

Enforcement and penalties

The Organiser can take action against breaches, including before a breach has been committed. Remedies include:

  • an injunction to prevent the breach
  • damages or account of profits
  • an order to erase, remove or cover the unauthorised representation
  • an order for anyone involved in the breach to publish corrective advertising or statements
  • an order for forfeiture, destruction or impoundment of the breaching goods

Breaching MEMA is an offence that carries a fine of up to $150,000.

MEMA prohibits offering, giving away, or selling a ticket to the Rugby League World Cup in connection with the promotion of goods or services. This will prohibit giving away tickets as prizes.

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