Hospitality providers - even people renting out their home - could risk a $150,000 fine for using forbidden words in their Rugby World Cup advertising.

A list of words and images, including "Rugby World Cup" and "Spirit of Rugby", have been deemed "major event emblems and words" under the Major Events Management Act 2007.

The act's promotion restrictions are intended to protect the rights and investments of Rugby World Cup official sponsors.

Wine and spirits producer Pernod Ricard was estimated to have paid around US$2.5 million ($3.4 million) for sponsorship rights, electronics company Toshiba about US$4 million, and ANZ a higher sum.

But hospitality providers have complained that restrictions will undermine small business interests. Auckland's economic benefit alone is expected to be more than $250 million.

Even homeowners renting out their houses could be penalised.

A Government guide to the act warns "opportunities will exist for New Zealand households to rent out their houses, baches and apartments to visiting fans during the tournament ... [they] will need to be mindful when advertising accommodation ... that they do not suggest an unauthorised association".

Although Auckland bed and breakfast Calico Lodge had changed its website to conform to guidelines, co-owner Kay Hamilton felt the restrictions were unfair.

Calico Lodge is one of eight Auckland region New Zealand bed and breakfasts listed at the official Rugby World Cup accommodation portal.

"We have covered ourselves because we don't want any trouble. But we would love to put a logo and rugby ball [on our website]. Even if they'd said it would cost you $15 or $20. All they're doing now is making it difficult for travellers."

One unofficial accommodation website owner said he had received a standard letter about the act.

He had changed the infringing banner on the website, and added a disclaimer confirming non-association with the tournament.

The text still had some protected phrases. He believed this was acceptable, as long as it wasn't dominant.

He said he hoped the authorities wouldn't be too draconian, as it could lead to a shortage of accommodation.

Some exceptions have been made. Newspapers, radio and television broadcasters can use protected images and words for reporting purposes.

A Ministry of Economic Development spokesperson said Rugby World Cup Ltd and the ministry were committed to an education and information response, then cease and desist notices and ultimately legal proceedings in the face of serious and deliberate ambush marketing efforts.

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