The End of the ‘Hexagarantia?’ - Fordham Intellectual Property, Media & Entertainment Law Journal
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The End of the ‘Hexagarantia?’

The End of the ‘Hexagarantia?’

The Brazilian national team may anger a few fans at this year’s World Cup tournament if the country’s soccer authority has their way.  Brazil’s soccer federation recently asked South Korean carmaker Hyundai to stop running the Hexagarantia promotional campaign that promises to extend the company’s usual five-year guarantee to six for all cars purchased between January 1 and July 13 if the 2014 FIFA World Cup host nation Brazil extends their record five World Cup wins to six this year.

Promotional gimmicks and sporting events are natural complements, but there are questions of how far these promotions can go and what parts of the event they can use.  The Confederação Brasileira de Futebol (CBF), Brazilian soccer’s ruling body, argued that the promotion breaches intellectual property rights and that Hyundai cannot use any references to the Brazilian national team in its promotion.  Further complicating the matter, Hyundai is an official sponsor of FIFA, but the CBF’s official car partner is Volkswagen.

Such promotions tied to sports events are not uncommon.  Just last month, a promotion based on the winner of the Super Bowl cost Houston-based Gallery Furniture $7 million.  The company’s CEO, Jim McIngvale, promised that customers who spent more than $6,000 at Gallery stores and had their furniture delivered before the game would have their money returned if the Seattle Seahawks won the Super Bowl.  McIngvale determined the customers would be cheering for the Seahawks and the company would be cheering for Broncos by flipping a coin in the days leading up to the February 2nd game.  McIngvale made no indication that he was told to stop the promotion, but the NFL is known to be vigilant in protecting its trademarks and logos.  The NFL has aggressively sent cease-and-desist letters for use of the “Super Bowl” name, presumably to be able to prove under U.S. trademark law that they have always defended the trademark.

Unlike some of the smaller businesses unable to challenge the power and purse of the NFL, Hyundai is a major company and South Korea’s largest automaker.  For now, Hyundai’s Hexagarantia promotion is still active, and there is no indication that it will be stopped.  There is also no indication of how Hyundai would handle customers who purchased cars with the expectation that the promotion would be honored if the company is forced to end it.  As one of the most celebrated teams in World Cup history and this year’s host nation, Brazil will have plenty of fans cheering on the national team this summer and hoping to win a sixth title. The new Hyundai owners among them will be hoping they still get their Hexagarantia.

John Hreno