Businesses urged to avoid freewheeling into illegal Tour de Yorkshire branding

As the days countdown to the first ever Tour de Yorkshire on May 1, regional businesses looking to capitalise on the three day race are warned not to fall foul of branding rules.

Giles Searby, partner at hlw Keeble Hawson solicitors and an expert in dispute resolution and sports law, has some tips and advice for all Yorkshire businesses stepping up their marketing and promotional activities in readiness for this new international race.

Organised by Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) and Welcome to Yorkshire, the race is also supported by British Cycling and local authorities throughout Yorkshire.  Like last year’s Tour de France, there are strict rules about when and how the Tour de Yorkshire brand can be used.

Whilst it is perfectly acceptable for businesses to be creative in their leaflets and brochures with designs featuring bicycles or the race colours blue and yellow, it will be illegal to use the Tour de Yorkshire logo, brand or phrases for unauthorised promotional purposes.

Restrictions to bear in mind are:

1. The Tour de Yorkshire logo and brand cannot be used freely: The Tour de Yorkshire name and logo benefit from the usual legislative protections afforded to intellectual property – trade mark rights, design rights and copyright – plus various additional pieces of legislation.

2. Similarities also infringe rights: A business using a similar mark or logo, giving the impression it is officially connected to the event, will infringe rights in the Tour de Yorkshire brand.

3. Avoid the danger of ‘ambush’ marketing: Any business seeking to associate itself with the goodwill of the Tour de Yorkshire through ‘ambush’ or ‘parasitic’ marketing – without paying sponsorship fees – will be scrutinised.

4. No freewheeling on Tour de Yorkshire: Trade marks registered for the Tour de Yorkshire prevent the logo and brand name from being freely used or reproduced for commercial purposes. Sponsors and partners have exclusive rights to use the Tour de Yorkshire brand to promote their businesses. Even made up names could land a business in trouble and promotional materials should never use the words ‘le Tour’.

5. Don’t be tempted by celebrity: Using photographs of famous cyclists such as Bradley Wiggins, Lizzie Armitstead or Mark Cavendish could also land a business in court for breach of copyright. Any unauthorised use of a celebrity image is likely to be challenged. If you want to use cycling photographs then you must gain consent from the photographer and people in the photos.

6. Commercial gain is the decider: Businesses need the proper consents and licences from the The Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) or Welcome to Yorkshire before using the Tour de Yorkshire words or logo in marketing tools for commercial gain. Welcome to Yorkshire members may use the ‘Yorkshire Loves Le Tour’ logo on their websites, but will need permission from Welcome to Yorkshire to use it in print.

7. Understand the grey areas: Businesses planning to go sweet on their customers may also be interested to know that a marzipan representation of a celebrity cyclist, such as Mark Cavendish, for a non-commercial use will not break the rules. However, if sugar figures are mass produced by a bakery for commercial purposes, this could violate intellectual property and brand image rights.

8. What happens if a business breaks the law? It will receive a request from the ASO or Welcome to Yorkshire to refrain, but for a serious or persistent breach, injunctions could be obtained to deliver up or dispose of any infringing goods or materials and the business could be sued for damages.

9. Obtain permission: To link a business to the Tour de Yorkshire, best practice is to obtain permission from the ASO or Welcome to Yorkshire.

10. Harness support available: Welcome to Yorkshire is keen for all businesses in the region to get involved and benefit from this amazing new event.  If you are not sure whether a marketing activity will be permitted, speak to Welcome to Yorkshire, who have produced a guide to useful promotional ‘dos and don’ts’

Giles Searby, partner at hlw Keeble Hawson

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