Saturday, 2 October 2021

Expo 2020 Dubai Association Rights

Author SumikashaC Licence CC BY-SA 4.0 Source Wikimedia 

Expo 2020 Dubai opened on 1 Oct 2021. It should have taken place between 20 Oct 2020 and 10 April 2021 but, like the Tokyo Olympics, it was postponed for a year because of the pandemic.  As it happens, International Expos have a lot in common with the Olympic Games. They attract visitors from all parts of the world. They require lavish sponsorship.  They are regulated by ithe Bureau International des Expositions much in the way that the Games are regulated by the International Olympic Committee.

Like the Olympics and other major sporting events, their funding is vulnerable to ambush marketing.  The booklet, Expo 2020 Dubai Brand Protection Guidelinesdescribes ambush marketing as "the act of creating a false or unauthorized association with an event, whether intentional or not." It effectively gives worldwide publicity to the ambushers for nothing.

The right to associate with a major sporting event or Expo is called an "association right" and it is regarded as an intellectual property right (see para 16.1 (6) of the Part 63 Practice Direction).  I discussed the legislation that protected the rights of the International Olympic Committee and the London Organizing Committee in Olympics Association Right and London Olympics Association Right on 31 July 2012 in NIPC Law.  Similar legislation has been enacted for the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham in 2022 which I mentioned in Guidance on Birmingham Commonwealth Games Association Right on 10 Aug 2021 in NIPC West Midlands.

The marks that are protected in the United Arab Emirates include the composite word and device marls of the Bureau International des Expositions and Expo 2020 Dubai. Images of those marks appear on pages 11 to 13 and 16 of the booklet. The booklet suggests that neither the Emirati nor the Dubai government has enacted special legislation to protect those marks or association rights. The intellectual property rights that are mentioned on page 19 are trade marks and copyright. I discussed the relevant legislation in UAE Trade Mark Law on 30 May 2013 and copyright and related rights on 4 Jan 2012 and 11 Feb 2012.

The booklet does not mention the courts in which infringement proceedings would be brought. It is assumed that these will be the civil courts in Dubai. As an intellectual property law has been enacted for the Dubai International Financial Centre. it may also be possible for sponsors to seek relief in the Centre's English speaking common law courts (see  Introduction to, and Overview of, the New DIFC Intellectual Property Law 11 Dec 2019).  An advantage of that jurisdiction is that the DIFC provides a remedy for passiong off (see The DIFC Law of Passing-Off  7 April 2012).

Changing the subject, almost every country in the world seems to be represented with its own pavilion in Dubai including very small states such as Monaco and the Holy See.  The British pavilion seems particularly lavish.   A day ticket to the Expo costs 95 UAE dirhams which is just under £20 and children, students, seniors and "people of determination" get in for free.  That compares very favourably to the Roman remains in Bath, an important tourist attraction in this country. 

Anyone wishing to discuss this article can call me on  +44 (0)20 7504 5252 during office hours or send me a message through my contact form. 

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