Stake Name Causes More Trouble: Sauber Faces Potential Fine Upwards Of $500,000

F1
by Adam OndrikWednesday, 07 February 2024 at 04:00
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The Sauber/ Stake Formula 1 team is being sued by the Federal Casino Commission in Switzerland for a potential breach of advertising laws.
Sauber's risky move to change the team's name to Stake F1 team certainly has paid off in terms of media coverage the team has been receiving over the last few months.
However, it also caused quite a trouble for the team. Sauber's team representative Alessandro Alunni Bravi confirmed the team would have to change between two names from race to race. But why, you might ask...

What is the problem with the Stake F1 Team name?

Stake.com is the company that took over Sauber's naming rights. The problem is that this company is an online crypto casino. Advertising of gambling is prohibited in some countries that host Grand Prix races.
Running under the name of the gambling company would be a breach of the advertising laws, and therefore, the Stake F1 team will be changing its name to "Kick Sauber" during some races.

Sauber is being sued in Switzerland:

Switzerland does not host any of the Grand Prix races, so why would Sauber be sued there? The team has its headquarters in Hinwil, in the Swiss canton of Zurich. Moreover, it competes under the Swiss flag.
Switzerland is among the countries where Stake.com does not have a license. Therefore, it's illegal. Being illegal in the country means it also mustn't be advertised.
Nevertheless, the Stake logo is omnipresent on the team uniforms worn by its employees as well as the team's website and social media.
Legal expert Patrick Krauskopf, who works as a professor of competition law at the Zurich University of Applied Sciences, told SRF:

"Sponsoring would be allowed. In the present case, the brands Stake and Sauber are so linked together, or the term Stake is so strongly imprinted in the minds of viewers, that we have probably crossed the red line into unauthorized advertising."

According to SRF, the Federal Casino Commission has opened proceedings against Sauber. The Swiss team is now reportedly at risk of a fine of up to 500,000 francs ($574,475 based on current conversion rates).
While the situation seems quite alarming, the team's representative apparently responded calmly, saying Sauber has been careful to comply with all applicable laws.

"We always comply with all applicable laws, including in Switzerland. And of course we took all measures to comply with them."