The end of winter has traditionally signalled the beginning of
Australia's peak sport and major event season, encompassing the
smorgasbord of events on offer to the Australian
public including the AFL and NRL finals series and the F1
Grand Prix. The popularity of major sporting events has resulted in
increasing commerciality surrounding Australian events, with one
aspect of commerciality being sponsorship. Sponsorship represents a
significant factor in the commercial viability of sports
organisations and therefore major sporting events around
In keeping with the Australian trend towards legislative
protection for commercial rights holders and sponsors of major
events, in 2009 the Western Australian Parliament enacted the
Major Events (Aerial Advertising) Act 2009 (the
Act). An intended effect of the Act is to maintain
the commercial viability of Western Australia's major events by
ensuring that sponsors' rights to exposure and association are
not undermined by so-called "ambush marketing" through
The Act was proclaimed on 12 January 2010 and came into effect
on 18 January 2010.
A brief overview of the Act
The operative provisions of the Act apply in respect of
specified events, and its application is restricted to
aerial advertising within sight of a specified venue during the
specified time, as set out in an event order made under
Event organisers may apply to the Minister for an event order
declaring a specified event. Before making an order, the Minister
must be satisfied that the event is of international or national
significance (which means having more than simply high attendance
or participation levels) and that the event has commercial
arrangements that are likely to be adversely affected by
unauthorised aerial advertising.
Section 11 of the Act makes it an offence to display aerial
advertising (or cause aerial advertising to be displayed) in
contravention of the Act, with an applicable fine of A$250,000. The
Act does not distinguish between natural persons and corporate
offenders in terms of penalty, but does provide that an officer of
a body corporate engaged in aerial advertising in contravention of
the Act may be charged with an offence under the Act (even in the
event that the body corporate itself is not charged).
The Act also provides for civil remedies of injunctions and
damages. In the event that they have prior knowledge of proposed
contravention of section 11 of the Act, the Minister or an event
organiser may apply to the Supreme Court for an injunction to
restrain a person (including a corporation) from engaging in
conduct. An action to recover damages may be brought by any person
who suffers loss, injury or damage because of a contravention of
section 11, which is most likely to be an event organiser or in
some cases, a sponsor of a specified event.
Taking advantage of the State's weather and landscape, a
large proportion of the major events held in Western Australia are
held in open spaces, which makes them ripe for ambush by aerial
advertisers. There are therefore significant implications in having
legislation to combat aerial advertising for Western
Australia's events calendar, as sporting organisations, events
organisers and even state-run agencies such as Eventscorp are able
to offer an additional layer of security and peace of mind to
sponsors and interstate or international events organisers.
One of the major international events on the horizon for Western
Australia is the Perth 2011
ISAF Sailing World Championships. As the official law firm for
Perth 2011, Middletons and other sponsors of the event will take
interest in the effectiveness of the Major Events (Aerial
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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