Who: The Italian government and the Italian parliament
When: 13 March 2020 (Law Decree) and 8 May 2020 (Law)
Law stated as at: 21 May 2020
The Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games of Milan/Cortina 2026 and the ATP Finals of Turin 2021-2025 have prompted the Italian government and parliament to adopt a specific regulatory framework on ambush marketing.
Law Decree no. 16/2020 converted into Law no. 31/2020 (published last 8 May 2020) deals with specific issues relating to specific sport events – the ATP Tour Finals 2021-2025 and Winter Olympics and Paralympic Games 2026 – and provides for a general ban of ambush marketing activities defined as “parasitic activities”.
According to article 10 of the Decree, parasitic, fraudulent or misleading advertising and marketing activities, carried out in relation with the organisation of the major national or international sporting events or fairs (Events) – without the authorisation of the organisers and aimed at achieving an economic and competitive advantage – are banned.
The Decree provides for a list of marketing and advertising activities deemed as parasitic and therefore banned such as:
- the creation of link (also indirect) between a trademark or other distinctive sign and one of the Events, capable of misleading the public about the identity of the official sponsors;
- the misrepresentation of false claim in advertising of being an official sponsor of one of the Events;
- the promotion of own belonging trademark or other distinctive sign through any action capable of attracting the public’s attention, carried out during the Events and capable of generating the erroneous impression that the owner is the official sponsor;
- the sale and advertising of products and services abusively marked, even in part, with the logo of one of the Events or with other distinctive signs capable of generating in the public an erroneous impressions of the existence of a link with the Events or with their organisers or other authorised persons.
The activities carried out in the performance of sponsorship agreements entered with athletes, teams, artists or authorized participants in one of the Events do not result in parasitic advertising activities.
The ambush marketing ban operates from the date of registration of the official logos, brands or trademarks of the Events, until 180 days following the official end of the Events.
With regard to enforcement and sanctions, the Italian Competition Authority (with the support of the Italian tax police) may impose administrative fines between €100,000 and €2.5 million.
Why this matters:
The Decree represents a first attempt by the Italian government and parliament to regulate the phenomenon of the ambush marketing in a structured manner and not for individual events such as during Turin Winter Olympics of 2006 where specific provisions were adopted.