The folks over at The WorldCupBlog got a cease and desist letter from FIFA recently asking them to remove the FIFA trademarked World Cup logo and other insignia. In typical legalese the letter was pretty hostile like most C&D letters are. Bob wasn’t too happy:
If by promoting the World Cup, getting fans excited about the event and providing news about the teams that you can’t find elsewhere in English is materially damaging FIFA, Budweiser, Mastercard, et al., then we plead guilty.
I’m normally the last person to stick up for ‘the man’ but in this case FIFA was right to do this. Those logos are theirs and their appearance on any site can lead people to infer an endorsement or approval of the content by FIFA. I’ll admit the first time I went to the WorldCupBlog, it was so well designed including the logos, etc. I wondered if FIFA had actually setup a blog for the 2006 World Cup. This is what trademarks are for and infringing on them, no matter how noble the cause, can’t be allowed.
Does that mean FIFA had to be so hostile out of the gate? No. But lawyers seem to think hostile C&D letters are the best option – I’ve seen the exact same form letter sent to many webmasters, often in cases where the company didn’t have a leg to stand on. They bully you into submission hoping you’ll do what they want even if legally they can’t force you to. But in this case it was a clear infringement and FIFA was right to ask that it stop.
Of course if FIFA really wanted to show the fans how much they care about them, they’d have setup Bob in a nice office with a sizable stipend to officially blog the World Cup. Yeah, like they’d ever let on how much the fans mean to them *cough*.