FIFA put a stop to Rosberg’s World Cup helmet

2014 German Grand Prix

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Nico Rosberg has been forced to remove an image of the World Cup trophy from his helmet following an intervention by football’s governing body, FIFA.

Rosberg had announced he would wear a special helmet to commemorate the German football team’s victory in the tournament last week. He revealed a designed on Twitter which included an image of the trophy awarded to the World Cup winners.

However on Thursday Rosberg confirmed he had altered the design to remove the image of the trophy, the design of which is a FIFA trademark.

“A shame, I would have loved to carry the trophy as a tribute to the guys,” said Rosberg on Twitter, “but of course I respect the legal situation”.

Rosberg’s helmet will now feature four gold stars marking each of Germany’s football successes.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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52 comments on “FIFA put a stop to Rosberg’s World Cup helmet”

  1. This world has gone crazy.

    1. @slava It is FIFA’s intellectual property and if they want to prevent unauthorised use of it then fair enough. For example, replica helmets are big business, and if FIFA hadn’t asserted their rights here Rosberg would arguably have been in a position to profit from their trademark. I don’t think it’s realistic to expect them to allow that to happen.

      In an ideal world perhaps some reasonable compromise could have been sorted out but this will all have been handled by lawyers so there was never any danger of that happening.

      I understand the sentimental appeal of letting him use it, but is Rosberg’s celebration of his team’s achievement diminished all that much by not having a picture of the trophy on there? Not really.

      1. @keithcollantine while i agree that this is in violation of IP laws even rosberg himself said he’ll not do anything that violates it, and FIFA has every right to do this, i am not sure what he is profiting ? he is wearing it in celebration, he is not selling anything here.

        1. @f1007

          while I agree that this is in violation of IP laws even Rosberg himself said he’ll not do anything that violates it

          he is wearing it in celebration, he is not selling anything here.

          Rosberg said in the press conference he had no idea it might be an infringement of IP, so I don’t believe he has given any assurance that he would never sell anything featuring the trophy. Indeed, he might not even have complete control over that.

          Had FIFA let this go then I expect they would have been left with no legal recourse had Rosberg (or someone from his merchandising team) sold replicas, photos, posters or whatever of him including the helmet trophy at a later date. That will be why the lawyers have stepped in.

          There would also have been the problem of other people seeing that Rosberg has been allowed to do so and copying him, and potentially even citing Rosberg as legal precedent for doing so:

          1. @keithcollantine you cannot jump to conclusions based on assumptions, him not giving assurance doesn’t mean he is going to sell them. I understand FIFA’s stand, just don’t agree with your accusation. If you have seen them selling merchandise or any proof of that i will change my mind, otherwise these are just assumptions and one cannot make accusations based on assumptions.

          2. Michael Brown (@)
            17th July 2014, 14:56

            @keithcollantine I appreciate your take on this by bringing up the issues of replication. I’m still disappointed though because I’m sure Rosberg included the trophy in good faith.

          3. @f1007 You haven’t understood my point.

          4. so I don’t believe he has given any assurance that he would never sell anything featuring the trophy

            @Alonso_fan keywords Keith write are “I don’t believe”. What Keith has expressed is his opinion, whether you agree or disagree with that is entirely up to you, but conclusions are almost always based on assumptions at some point. We will never know the full context of what agreements were or were not in place as we weren’t party to the discussions.

            A major sticking point of mine with commentators on this site is they almost always fail to see the difference between what is the opinion of an individual, and what is factual.
            In respect of the point, by the very fact that Rosberg hadn’t given assurance to FIFA means FIFA believe he has the potential to in the future.

            Either way there is a winner in this as there always is. The lawyers. They have to earn their fee somewhere!

        2. I’m not sure how different jurisdictions would enter into this, but in the common law jurisdictions it’s very important that the holder of any intellectual property vigorously defend their rights in the IP. If they let Rosberg do this, then the image could be used by Rosberg later and FIFA would find any claim against profits made by Rosberg to be damaged by their allowing its use here.

          Furthermore FIFA could stand to have their claim in the exclusive use of this IP damaged on the whole by allowing Rosberg to use the image. Outside of licensing agreements, only FIFA can use the image in question. If they let Rosberg use this without objecting, then anyone else who may use it in the future can point to Rosberg’s free use of the image as a defence against any claim made against them by FIFA.

          Eventually this may lead to FIFA losing basically all their IP rights in the image in question, and all the profits that go with it.

      2. Nico should use DFB’s (Deutsche Fußball-Bund ) logo instead. Mercedes-Benz is a sponsor of DFB, so it would cool and wise to stamp their brand on the helmet.

      3. Formula1extra
        17th July 2014, 16:08

        If this is the case, I wonder why Trulli could use it in 2006 after Italy won the worldcup. ;-)

  2. I actually think the stars look better.

    1. True, but that doesn’t excuse FIFA being total proverbials about it.

      1. Indeed, a bit FOM about it.

  3. I find it amusing that Rosberg is being told what to do by a despotic organisation that is fierecly protective of its intellectual property that isn’t the FIA or FOM!

    1. @don-mateo

      FIFA (and FOM to some extent) have the perfect business model. FIFA’s main product is the World Cup, but their investment is not significant. Host nations must invest billions in infrastructure, security and marketing then FIFA collects the proceeds from sponsors and others without incurring meaningful costs…

      But they have the right over the trade mark so…

  4. Small error:

    He revealed a designed on Twitter which included an image of the Jules Rimet trophy awarded to the World Cup winners.

    The current trophy goes by the name FIFA World Cup Trophy; it replaced the Jules Rimet Trophy in 1974.

    1. @pjtierney Corrected, thanks.

  5. The whole world is going down a crazy road. It is ridiculous. Intellectual Property here and there, right, left, down, above, beyond. Crazy!
    A World Cup image is intellectual property? What else now?

  6. Probably won’t affect Rosberg’s tribute in the grand scheme of things but doesn’t make the decision any less stupid and probably driven by greed.

  7. A copyright is a copyright; at the very least FIFA can be trusted on being mostly consistent with their rulings, unlike CERTAIN OTHER FEDERATIONS. Also, I’ve always thought the world cup trophy looks unsightly; the stars look way better.

  8. This sounds like madness but unfortunately FIFA had no choice here. You must defend your trademark. If you can’t show that you have defended it then you can lose the rights to it.

  9. Seems about right. I found it weird when I first saw the helment…

    It works well for Rosberg too. The World Cup looks horrible in the helmet. It’s better with the stars :).

  10. It is a shame that FIFA is so narrow-minded about the use of its trademark. Yes, feasibly posters and T-shirts could be sold featuring Rosberg’s special helmet, but are they likely to be extra sales generated as a direct result of the use of the trophy image? I think it’s very unlikely.

    Furthermore, there is a precedent, when Jarno Trulli put a very similar image of the World Cup trophy on his helmet in 2006 in celebration of Italy’s win in that year’s tournament. As far as I know, FIFA didn’t complain then, nor was there any harm done.

    1. The difference is that Rosberg’s helmet will probably be visible on TV.

      1. petebaldwin (@)
        17th July 2014, 15:54

        … which promotes the World Cup to millions for free. Poor FIFA!?

  11. I thought FIFA’s objection was going to be that Rosberg was not German enough to rock that patriotic helmet.
    I’ll get my coat.

    1. FIFA follows Hamilton on Twitter, so their hands were tied in this case

  12. Personally, I think this whole silly business of constantly changing helmet designs should be stopped, preferably by an autocratic regulation introduced without warning from the FIA (Bernie could say that all the teams agree, of course). The whole idea was for drivers to be identified easily when in their cars, not as a way to celebrate every minor personal or national event. I, for one, have no desire to keep up with the latest monstrosity of a design on Joe Bloggs’ helmet and I really don’t care if he wants to announce to the world that Outer Mongolia won the World Tiddlywinks Cup.

    And, while I’m on the subject, how the heck do you drink champagne from that ridiculous football world cup?

    1. Most of these helmets get used for charity, its fine

      1. There are plenty of other things that can be used to raise money for charity. Why destroy the functionality of something as important as driver identification? Besides, I’m sure that Senna’s original helmets have just as much value as any of these celebratory one-offs.

    2. Personally I think the FIA should regulate car number position and size, rather than helmet design.

      With the technological advancement in airbrushing the past 20 years, nobody has a recognizable helmet anyway. As far as helmets go, I can’t tell any of the current Red Bull drivers apart. I don’t think regulating a single helmet design per year would improve this. I’d say driver helmets started getting messy around 2000. Heidfeld and Raikkonen were some of the first drivers who had rather busy helmet designs that I to this day don’t really remember. Apart from DC and Webber I’d say all Red Bull drivers have had the same helmet on and some drivers don’t want to be recognized. (I’m a Grosjean fan, but I have no idea what his helmet looks like.)

      Prime examples in this case:
      Fernando Alonso started out with this but his helmet exploded during his championship years (ignoring his McLaren helmet, which didn’t look like anything at all) to look like this and there’s even more graphical diarrhea now. Still, you can recognize the color of the top of his helmet, so he has that going for him.

      If anything should be regulated about the helmets, perhaps the main color should be, but the changing helmets don’t bother me all that much.

    3. Why is it silly?
      I personally like the different designs, and it helps to promote the different helmet painters (eg, JLF and Jens Munser) so they can showcase what they’re capable of.
      To be honest, I find the older designs (Coulthard, Senna, Barrichello, etc) to be rather boring.
      It looks like anyone could replicate them, whereas with some of vettels helmets like the Singapore one from 2011, it looks like a lot of work went into it, and that only a few people could replicate it.

  13. In the USA, not defending EVERY known infringement of a copyright or trademark makes it much more challenging to defend said trademark or copyright. Or put it another way, if FIFA did not issue a cease and desist, the would have found it difficult if Rosberg later put the helmet up for sale or auction (thereby transferring ownership rights). Rosberg saying he won’t do is NOT enough of a guarantee. FIFA could have asked for a perpetual agreement in WRITING that Rosberg would never sell or transfer ownership of the helmet.

    1. You’re right

  14. We follow F1, the most corporate heavy sport out there with sponsors and suppliers. I think it would be hypocritical to scorn FIFA.

  15. Ridiculous, FIFA get a grip. He only wants to support his team

  16. petebaldwin (@)
    17th July 2014, 15:52

    There aren’t many organisations that you can say are more rediculous than the FIA but in FIFA, you have a prime example.

  17. Everyone seems to be blaming FIFA but I think the FIFA’s hands were more or less tied in that manner.
    Hyundai is the official sponsor of the World Cup, which means they have a contract with FIFA. From what I read it was Hyundai who told the FIFA that they don’t want an official World Cup logo an the helmet of a Mercedes works driver (which is understandable). So FIFA had more or less no other choice than to forbid its usage.

    FIFA may not be a very sympathic organisation, but I belive that without Hyundai they would have allowed it.

    1. Which would make sense, except there’s no Hyundai logo on the cup trophy, at least not as depicted on the helmet design.

      1. Hyundai pay to be associated with the image of the World Cup. Rosberg having it on his helmet associates Mercedes with the image of the World Cup.

        You can liken it to Michele Alboreto being let go from Tyrrell because he was backed by Marlboro and Camel started sponsoring Tyrrell. If you’re paying for your name to be associated with something, you don’t want a competing business to get the same for free/less.

  18. I just wonder how much exposure the helmet would have got, if the FIFA did not intervened and how much it got now that the FIFA did intervene…

    I like the cheekiness in the move, particularly the wording of the rationale.

    1. *intervene

  19. David Welter Ribeiro
    17th July 2014, 17:50

    Considering the design of the world cup, this is actually an improvement.

  20. So, he’s german after all…..

  21. I suspect it won’t be long until this site is issued with a take-down notice of the helmet pic. That’s FIFA.

  22. The funny thing is, this debacle has probably generated even more attention around the subject than there would have been otherwise.

  23. That’s a very nice helmet.

    It looked so much better and appropriate with the Cup on top.

  24. Lewis should put a picture of his Silverstone 10£ Santander trophy on his helmet just for fun.

    1. Neil (@neilosjames)
      18th July 2014, 1:19

      I’d gladly clear out every bank account, piggy bank and change jar I have for his chosen charity if that actually happened.

  25. A lawyer was asked if he would like to become a Jehovah’s Witness. He declined, as he hadn’t seen the accident, but said he would still be interested in taking the case.

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