Karlsruhe, Germany - Football's world governing body FIFA suffered a serious setback on Thursday in its bid to protect its World Cup sponsors when Germany's federal court lifted the copyright for three German-language slogans on 860 products.
Fifa failed to prove that it held the copyright to the slogans for this year's World Cup finals, which kick off in Germany in just over six weeks' time.
The three slogans in question were WM 2006 (which translates as World Cup 2006), WM Deutschland (World Cup Germany) and Fussball WM Deutschland (Football World Cup Germany).
Two companies, including the German sweetmaker Ferrero, were the complainants in the case.
Although Thursday's ruling covers products in Germany, it could have wider implications.
The ruling means that FFifa can no longer give sponsors assurances that other companies will not advertise with the slogans.
The 64-match World Cup finals begin on June 9 and conclude with the final at Berlin's Olympic Stadium on July 9. - Sapa-AFP