Earlier this month Crikey received a legal threat from the other national broadcaster SBS. Why? Because we dared to tag our coverage of soccer, sorry, football, with three little words: “the world game”.

Crikey operated under the assumption that the term “the world game” was used by lots of people to describe soccer, because use of the word “soccer” enrages fans, and use of the word “football” got it confused with, well, football. We respect legitimate pursuit of trademarks, but we  also operated under the assumption that words are words, and as such, anyone is free to use them. And why wouldn’t we? SBS doesn’t have the trademark to use these common words. After taking legal advice, Crikey put it in the politest possible way: we told SBS to get stuffed.

We then received this aggressive follow up letter (Worthy of the Name letter (16-12-09) [pdf]) from a Sydney lawyer.


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Seems SBS is willing to spend taxpayer funds on pursuing us and others for daring to classify, order and categorise our content with “their” words. And how much more will it spend fighting for something that we have on good authority they’re unlikely to get?

SBS claims that Crikey is profiting from the term “the world game” by selling our tea towels, socks and other paraphernalia off the back of their brand. To which we say, get your hand off it, SBS, we don’t need your piffling slogan, we’ve got Kevin Rudd’s pets.

Which is why we issue this challenge. SBS: reveal your reports and correspondence with the trademark office. We’re interested to see if there’s any hope in hell of you ever getting the monopolistic use of these common words. Crikey will be keeping our power dry instead of expending time and funds on fighting a fellow media company over an issue as ridiculous as this, especially since we hardly ever use the tag (not “blog” as SBS has called it in one piece of correspondence.)

So you get your way SBS — here, have “the world game” back. We’ve taken down our tag and replaced it with this:


Click on the tag above to read all about the game that Les Murray once referred to as *censored* but that you won’t be reading about on our website because SBS doesn’t like to share.