Ambush marketing activities—such as advertisements that obliquely reference a major event—have frustrated major sport event organizers and sponsors for years. Nevertheless, these activities, so long as they stopped short of trademark infringement or false advertising, have been perfectly legal. In the last decade, major sport event organizers such as the International Olympic Committee and the Fédération Internationale de Football Association have pressured national governments to pass legislation prohibiting ambush marketing as a condition of a successful bid to host an event. Such legislation has already been enacted in the United Kingdom, Canada, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand, and the statutes in these jurisdictions reveal an emerging right of association. In this paper, the author surveys the evolution of this right and its key features. She offers a critique of this right, and argues that the need for it has never been properly established, and that the legislation is overly broad, does not reflect an appropriate balancing of interests, and may infringe upon the freedom of expression.
Scassa is with the Faculty of Common Law, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.