SBD/Issue 72/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

MLS Sues Black & Decker Over "Ambush Marketing" Campaign

MLS, SUM Claim DeWalt Tried
To Confuse Fans
 MLS has “filed suit against Black & Decker Corp. saying an ‘ambush marketing’ campaign by its DeWalt power tools division aimed at Hispanic soccer fans violated the league’s trademarks and falsely advertised an official connection by the tool maker to the league,” according to Gary Haber of the BALTIMORE BUSINESS JOURNAL. The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in N.Y. by MLS and Soccer United Marketing (SUM), the league's licensing subsidiary, says DeWalt “tried to confuse soccer fans into thinking it was a league sponsor.” The suit “alleges DeWalt did this by setting up booths, without authorization, to advertise its products at MLS-sponsored matches featuring the Mexican national team in San Diego, Los Angeles and Houston in 2008 and 2009.” It also claims that DeWalt “used MLS logos in promotional flyers and gave away tickets to Mexican national team exhibition matches to purchasers of its tools, all in violation of MLS’ exclusive power tools sponsorship with Makita, a DeWalt competitor.” N.Y.-based law firm Levine, Sullivan, Koch & Schulz LLP is representing MLS and SUM in the case (, 12/24).

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