Public Advisory Notice
The Board of Control for Cricket in India's Sub-Committee Unit known as the Indian Premier League© ("BCCI-IPL") has noted a large number of intentional and unintentional violations of its intellectual property rights and is therefore distributing the following public guidance document. This document provides guidance on appropriate commercial and non-commercial utilisation by third parties of the proprietary names ("IPL Names"), proprietary marks ("IPL Marks") and audio-visual representations of IPL match play ("IPL Footage") relating to the DLF-Indian Premier League ("IPL").
The value of the IPL Names, the IPL Marks and the IPL Footage and their appropriate use and protection are critical to the success of the IPL. The FAQs below give an overview of why the IPL must protect its brand, what the IPL's legal rights are, and what third parties should and should not do in relation to the IPL Names, IPL Marks and IPL Footage.
Frequently asked questions
Why protect the IPL brand?
Any event such as the IPL is made possible through the commercial participation of sponsors, partners and broadcasters that are each granted certain exclusive rights and privileges by the IPL in consideration of their support. As a result, it is vital that the IPL Names, IPL Marks and IPL Footage are protected and managed by the IPL. If anyone could use the IPL Names, IPL Marks and IPL Footage for free, or could create or suggest an association with the IPL, there would be no incentive for sponsors, partners and broadcasters to invest. The IPL must prevent unlicensed third parties from undertaking unauthorised activities that damage or dilute IPL sponsors’, partners’ and broadcasters’ exclusive rights. Also, in order to maintain the integrity of the IPL brand and to protect against dilution and damage to its reputation and prestige, it is vital that the IPL retains careful control of the IPL Names, IPL Marks and IPL Footage and their uses.
What are the IPL Names, IPL Marks and IPL Footage?
All of the official names, phrases, trade marks, trade names, logos and designs related to the Indian Premier League are protected by the law in a variety of ways.
The following are some of the current items that make up the IPL Names and IPL Marks:
- The DLF-IPL logo;
- The logos of each of the eight IPL franchises;
- The words "Indian Premier League©," "IPLTM," "DLF Indian Premier League", and "DLF-IPL" and variants thereof;
- The names of each of the eight IPL franchises; and
Also, still images and live or deferred footage of match play action constitute protected and proprietary IPL Footage.
How are the IPL Names, IPL Marks and IPL Footage protected?
The IPL Names, IPL Marks and IPL Footage are legally protected by a variety of means, which include trade mark and design laws, copyright laws, telecommunications laws relating to signal theft, common law and the terms and conditions under which IPL match tickets are sold and accredited stadium entry is permitted.
What uses are unlawful without a license from the IPL?
The unlicensed and unauthorised use of any of the IPL Names, IPL Marks (or any other marks or logos that are confusingly similar to, or likely to be mistaken for, them) or IPL Footage is strictly prohibited. For example, without license of the IPL, it is unlawful to use the IPL Names and IPL Marks or to reproduce or distribute IPL Footage in the course of trade. These properties cannot be used on goods, in business names or in advertising or promotions without license from the IPL or one of its authorised licensees that, in turn, has the rights to grant sub-licenses. It is also unlawful, through the use of the IPL Names, IPL Marks and IPL Footage, to falsely represent any association, affiliation, endorsement, sponsorship or similar relationship with the IPL.
It is important to note that a formal association with any of the eight IPL franchises does not automatically grant a franchise partner or franchise sponsor the right to use the IPL Names, IPL Marks and IPL Footage (other than the specific rights such franchise is authorised to license) without the prior authorisation of the IPL.
When can the IPL Names, IPL Marks and IPL Footage be used?
The IPL Names, IPL Marks and IPL Footage can be used with the license and authorisation of the IPL or its authorised licensees that have been granted the rights to issue sub-licenses. Such license and authorisation will only be given to official sponsors, partners, licensees and non-commercial partners. There are very few situations in which the IPL Names, IPL Marks and IPL Footage can be used in commercial contexts without the IPL's explicit license and consent.
The IPL Names, IPL Marks and, to a limited extent and subject to then current IPL Media Accreditation Guidelines, the IPL Footage may be used in editorial news pieces without the IPL's prior authorization. In certain circumstances when reporting and providing information on the IPL, journalists are able to use the IPL Names and IPL Marks to illustrate their editorial feature.
The IPL's intention is not to restrict people from interacting with the IPL or providing or sharing information on the tournament, but, when they do so, the IPL's legal rights must be recognised and respected.
What are the consequences of using the IPL Names, IPL Marks and IPL Footage without the IPL’s authorisation?
Unauthorised use of the IPL Names, IPL Marks and IPL footage may infringe one or more of the intellectual property rights of the IPL, the terms of the agreements signed between the IPL and its official sponsors and partners and/or the terms and conditions under which IPL tickets are sold and stadium entry is permitted. While the IPL expects compliance with the above, it is prepared to take legal action, as appropriate, in the case of each infringement and violation. This could include an injunction to stop the infringing activity, a suit for damages or compensation or an enforced accounting of profits by the infringer to the IPL. Both civil and criminal remedies are available in the case of intellectual property violations, signal theft and other violations of the IPL's rights.
What are some specific examples of impermissible unlicensed behavior?
It is evident that many people are eager to use the IPL Names, IPL Marks and IPL Footage to boost their business activities by marketing their products in connection with the IPL. The IPL is already aware of businesses seeking to gain an unauthorised association with the IPL. For the sake of guidance, a non-exhaustive list of impermissible commercial behaviour is given below:
Advertisements, promotions and events:
Advertisement features stating or suggesting an association between a brand, product, service or event and the IPL by using IPL Names, IPL Marks and IPL Footage are impermissible. Similarly, businesses which produce newsletters to customers or clients must ensure that IPL Names, IPL Marks and IPL Footage are not used, especially in a way which suggests a commercial association between their business and the IPL. The same applies to businesses which invite customers to IPL themed events. Holding an event which is only about the IPL and uses the IPL Names, IPL Marks or IPL Footage is not permissible. This is particularly true of event that have commercial sponsors involved.
Trade mark and copyright laws apply equally to the Internet and to websites. Websites that provide information about the IPL and are being operated on a purely non-commercial basis – for example, a supporters’ site used to provide information about players participating in the IPL, or a chat forum about the IPL – are unlikely to infringe the IPL’s rights. However, the creation of IPL specific communities that use IPL Names, IPL Marks and IPL Footage and solicit and raise sponsorships and advertising constitutes commercial use of IPL intellectual property and are impermissible.
In particular, live streaming and deferred uploading of IPL Footage (whether or not for profit), reproduction of IPL Names and IPL Marks in commercial contexts online and sale of counterfeit and unofficial IPL merchandise on auction and other websites constitute serious infringements of the IPL’s intellectual property rights and could result in civil penalties and even criminal prosecution.
The registration of domain names that use IPL Names also infringes IPL trade marks and any attempts to divert web traffic by the use of IPL Names in meta-tags or other notations is impermissible.
The creation of fantasy leagues or other online competitions or events that use or make reference to IPL Names, IPL Marks or IPL Footage are impermissible.
Adopting business or trading names that include IPL Names and using business logos that include IPL Marks or confusingly similar marks are very likely to be impermissible.
Tickets and Hospitality Packages:
Tickets to IPL matches are sold under specific conditions. Primarily, these may be purchased through officially appointed ticketing agents for personal use. IPL tickets may not be used for pro¬motions or as prizes in contests. The right to run ticket promotions is reserved for IPL sponsors and partners and is strictly prohibited by the tickets’ terms and conditions.
Further, IPL tickets may not be resold for a profit or as part of hospitality packages by unlicensed travel agents or other entities.
The IPL retains all rights to license commercial screenings of IPL Footage made available to members of the public or displayed in public places. Prohibited acts includes unlicensed display of IPL Footage in movie theaters, the sale of tickets or levying of a cover charge for entry to a location screening IPL footage or IPL themed screening events that use the IPL Names, IPL Marks or IPL Footage.
Editorial uses, Newsletters:
Purely editorial use of IPL Names and IPL Marks for conveying information is permissible use.
However, this journalistic use exception with respect to IPL Names, IPL Marks and IPL Footage does not apply to the production and distribution of newsletters, client bulletins or other marketing collateral produced in the guise of journalism, which state or suggest an official association between a product, service or event and the IPL.
PLEASE NOTE: This document is not an exhaustive description of any or all of the IPL’s rights at law or in contract. Unfortunately, the IPL does not have the resources to provide individual advice to people concerned that their activities may infringe the IPL’s rights. Further, this guidance is for illustrative purposes only and is not, and should not be construed to be, a substitute for legal advice. If you think you may have infringed the IPL’s rights, or you are proposing to do something that you think could potentially infringe the IPL’s rights, the IPL recommends that you seek independent legal advice.