Dot Your I’s and Cross Your T’s: Running a Successful Global Promotion

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“Running an international promotion can’t be that difficult, right? Won’t the same rules work everywhere?”

The rules for sweepstakes, contests, and other promotions vary dramatically by country, and sometimes by province or local jurisdiction. A promotion that is perfectly legal in the United States is not necessarily permitted in any other country – even a nation like Canada can have significantly different rules of the road, including registration requirements in Quebec. In short: assume nothing!

While it is crucial to consult with local counsel in each country to clear international promotions of any kind (and we rely on our network of foreign associates to confirm compliance with current local laws), we thought it would be useful to list a few of the interesting rules and regulations we have encountered in recent years while coordinating global promotions for our clients:

  • The promotion’s official rules and advertisements must appear in the local language. (Argentina, Canada, Norway, Russia, and many others)
  • Some countries make promotion winners responsible for taxes related to the prize (Malaysia), while other countries place the tax responsibility on the sponsor (e.g., Spain and Mexico).
  • Governmental authorities must pre-approve promotions. (Brazil)
  • Contestants must provide express written consent to the use of their images, and the Official Rules must specify where the image will be used. (Dominican Republic)
  • Only skill-based contests are permissible. (Israel, Sweden)
  • The rules must be filed with governmental authorities before the promotion commences, the sponsor must seek a bond, and local authorities must supervise the selection of winners. (Italy)
  • Local law specifies the maximum prize value for chance-based games. (Netherlands)
  • Proof of purchase promotions for chance-based games may be OK, but the sponsor cannot charge the entrant a fee to enter the promotion. (Australia)

This represents just a peek into some of the twists and turns you might encounter when structuring a global promotion – and the rules are changing all the time. As US lawyers, we cannot, and do not, offer legal advice in connection with the laws of other nations, which is why it is so important to have a network of lawyers around the world who can help a promotion comply across borders and cultures and legal systems. And remember: allow yourself plenty of lead time to confirm local requirements before you announce the promotion!

Let the Games Begin – But Only After the Rules Are In Place (Sweepstakes & Promotions Series Part 2)

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As we mentioned last month in our kickoff post on this topic, we are excited to dive deeper into the world of sweepstakes and promotions law.  This post explores several key elements to keep in mind when formulating the official rules and abbreviated rules for a promotion.

The main goal of the official rules in any promotion is two-fold: (a) to inform participants and the public regarding the details of the promotion, and (b) to comply with a series of federal and state laws and regulations.  Both of these goals are critical – no company wants to face either disgruntled participants or angry regulators.

The rules must be in place and finalized before the promotion begins.  If you are running a U.S.-based sweepstakes with a total prize value of over $5,000, you may also be required to register and bond the promotion with various state agencies up to thirty days before the promotion begins. Registration will require you to submit a copy of the promotion rules, so keep in mind that in those cases, the rules must be finalized at least thirty days before the beginning of the promotion.  That means the clock is ticking!  Depending on the type of promotion, other state laws and regulations may also be implicated, so be sure to check well before the beginning of the promotion. Continue reading