Texas Trademark Lawyer Tamera Bennett

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Ambush Marketing and Super Bowl XLV

Ambush marketing, the act of a product or service trying to attach itself to a big event without being an official sponsor of the event, seems to be under control leading up to Super Bowl XLV in Arlington, Texas. The City of Arlington has been working since 2007 to comply with the NFL's requirements to limit ambush marketing by implementing "Clean Zones" surrounding the Cowboys Stadium.

There is a two-mile zone surrounding Cowboys Stadium for the week leading up to the Super Bowl, where outdoor advertising displays including NFL-related signs, flags, banners, video screens, balloons, electronic message boards, nighttime projections of commercial messages, inflatable and building wraps visible from any public street within the zone are prohibited unless they have been approved.   "Clean Zone" ordinances have also been implemented in certain areas of Dallas and Fort Worth.    Keep in mind, there is no limitation on signage within a place of business. The Clean Zone only applies to signage that is outside of the building --- and there still seems to be confusion as to what is appropriate and what must be removed.

The goal of the Clean Zone is to protect the investment of the trademark owners that are official sponsors of the NFL and the Super Bowl event.  It is interesting that Clean Zone/Ambush Marketing ordinances are designed to protect an investment in a trademark, whereas, trademark law, by its very nature, is designed to protect the consumer of goods and not the trademark owner.