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SARU to take drastic steps to protect Boks brand

NEWS: The South African Rugby Union (SARU) has warned that it will take legal action against companies that ambush its intellectual property (IP) rights after securing a court order restraining Eskort from continuing a marketing campaign using the Springboks brand and IP.

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The Gauteng Division of the High Court ordered the company to remove the offending “marks and get-up from all signage, marketing material, goods and/or products of any nature, including banners, posts and publications of the respondent’s infringing marks on all and any websites, social media and other electronic platforms.” The matter is still to be argued at a later date.

SARU has also succeeded in closing online retailers of counterfeit apparel, all of whom have been exploiting Rugby World Cup fever along with more established corporates.

“We will do what we have to do to protect our rights and those of our highly valued partners, who are being shamelessly ambushed right now,” said Rian Oberholzer, CEO of SA Rugby.

“We cannot allow companies to flagrantly leverage their brand off the back of the Springboks brand when our real supporters in corporate South Africa – who enable us to put the Springbok rugby team on the field – are paying for the rights to use our IP.”

Rassie Erasmus, SA’s director of rugby, made a plea on behalf of the team: “We really appreciate the backing and support the Springboks are receiving and as a team we feel it over here in France.

“But, guys, can we please respect our sponsors who have carried us financially and have walked a long way with the team to this point. If you have the means, it would be great if you came on board as sponsors and join our loyal group of partners.

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“We appreciate every bit of support – from those sending messages, cheering for the team and simply watching our matches. It has been inspiring us to give everything on the field. Thank you to the whole of South Africa for your passionate support.”

Oberholzer said: “Companies such as MTN and FNB who joined us in the hard times and are still with us along with long-term supporters like Castle and all our other sponsors have shown true support by backing the Boks financially.

“They and our broadcast partner pay us for exclusivity in their area of business to use the Springbok brand and logo and have access to other assets.

“They are not free to use for anyone who takes a fancy, and those companies that understand the rules of IP and dance around them, associating with the team but without breaching the IP, are just as damaging. If they want to support us, they must do it in the right way and through the right channels.”

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The Springboks continue their World Cup campaign against Romania in Bordeaux on Sunday.

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