Covering Up Any Brand In Beijing That Hasn't Paid To Sponsor The Olympics

from the ip-insanity dept

Every time you think that the Olympics' bizarre obsession with extra-ordinary protections on intellectual property took a step beyond ridiculous, you were probably just underestimating the International Olympic Committee, who will just keep going further and further. You may recall the efforts put forth by the IOC to get special trademarks on certain words, like 2010 and Vancouver and 2012 and London, since that's where the next two Olympics will take place. While it seems ridiculous to be able to get trademarks on such things (and goes against the very purpose of trademark law), politicians seem to bow down to the Olympics. But that was just the start.

The Olympics has threatened any non-sponsor advertiser from even mentioning the Olympics, banned people in the stands from wearing clothing that has the logos of competitors to sponsors and even insisted that its security technology choices would be limited to sponsors, even if others had better technology.

The latest, however, may be the most ridiculous. All over Beijing, the brands of non-sponsors are being covered up by Olympic officials so that no one thinks that faucet maker American Standard got a "free ride." Seriously. They're putting tape over the brand name on faucets. And on light switches. And the headphones used by reporters and many other places where perfectly normal brands might occur. They've even covered up the name of a major hotel in Beijing, because it's not an Olympic sponsor.
In media centers, dormitories and arena bathrooms, pieces of tape cover logos of fire extinguishers, light switches, thermostats, bedroom night tables, soap dispensers and urinals. The Taiden Industrial translation headsets in a large conference room have had their logos covered, as have the American Standard faucets in the bathrooms nearby, and the ThyssenKrupp escalators down the hall. Even the sign atop the InterContinental Beijing Beichen hotel, attached to the Main Press Center, has been obscured by an Olympic cloth wrap. InterContinental Hotels Group isn't an Olympic sponsor.
Why? Well, the IOC claims that it's necessary:
The International Olympic Committee says that such "brand protection" is essential for the Games to raise the corporate money that keeps them going and growing. The Games get 40% of their revenue from sponsors, with the rest coming from broadcast rights, ticketing and licensing.
A few quick responses to that whopper of a statement:
  • The purpose of trademark law is not to protect the ability of the Olympics to make a profit. It's to avoid people being confused into thinking one product is made by someone else.
  • Even if it's important for the Olympics to make money off of sponsors, it's difficult to see why that would necessitate blocking everyone else's brands. No other event does this, and those events make out just fine.
  • Couldn't some of the covered up brands make the exact same response back? American Standard sold its faucets at a certain price, knowing that it would get some brand recognition from having its brand on the faucets. By blocking that, aren't the Olympics denying American Standard's "essential brand protection" that it needs to keep making money?
Once again, the true spirit of the Olympic games seems to be in absolutely trashing the meaning and purpose of intellectual property laws.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    mastmaker, Aug 18th, 2008 @ 2:19pm

    I am just waiting for the day when Olympics Games dies a horrible death and a phoenix called Gnulympics raises from its ashes to take its place. The event that will bring back the true amateur participants and zero-ad open-to-all international games. We might even call it Trulympics.

    Hey, somebody quick TM those names !?

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 18th, 2008 @ 2:45pm

    Corporations ruin everything, from countries to sporting events.

    Greed is not good.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Evil Mike, Aug 18th, 2008 @ 3:06pm

    Re:

    Anything carried to ludicrous extremes is not good.

    Pure O2 will get you high, and eventually kill you.
    Polluted O2 will put toxins in your bloodstream, and eventually kill you.

    100% Pure H2O will will give you diarrhea--dehydrate you.
    Polluted/Salty H2o will kill you too.

    And so on...

    Anything carried to ludicrous extremes will eventually kill you.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 18th, 2008 @ 3:07pm

    Re: Re:

    All generalizations are false. Including this one.

     

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  5.  
    icon
    GeneralEmergency (profile), Aug 18th, 2008 @ 3:11pm

    New Olympic Sport

    The 50 Non-Sponsor Logo Tape-over.

    Working only from memory and armed with color-coded 3 inch wide rolls of Olympic Symbol tape, the competitors race into the stands and tape off branding logos being worn by the spectators. Scoring is a complex task taking into account "Time", "Total Items Covered", "Mistakes Made", "Area of the Polygon in the Stands Searched" and my personal favorite, special bonus points for locating and taping over the mouths and noses of any intellectual property attorneys in the stands.

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Kevin Donovan, Aug 18th, 2008 @ 3:14pm

    Corporate Pressure

    I wonder how much of the IOCs actions are done to appease actual pressure from the sponsors. That is, are Coke and Visa the cause of the problems or is it purely IOC?

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    spepper, Aug 18th, 2008 @ 3:18pm

    covering up

    this is typical of communistic culture: to cover up what they, the communistic elite, decide is not worthy of expression-- whether in physical or electronic form-- in their world, the state takes precedence over the individual, whether that individual be in corporeal or corporate form-- so they get to decide what goes, over everything and everyone else-- resulting in extreme xenophobic attitude towards their own populus, not to mention anything and anyone else around the world--

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    TKM, Aug 18th, 2008 @ 3:21pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Poor logic.

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 18th, 2008 @ 3:27pm

    Shut up spepper. It's the opposite of communism. It's capitalism taken to the extreme. It's "You have to pay to be shown here. Otherwise, we won't even allow it to happen by accident". So stfu with your stupid communist bulshlit. Do you think movie companies don't do the same things in movies?

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 18th, 2008 @ 3:28pm

    Only in Bejing.
    I wonder how the british people are going to feel when when the IOC tries this.

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Pope Ratzo, Aug 18th, 2008 @ 3:30pm

    It's nice that you inform us of this ridiculous over-stepping by the IOC regarding intellectual "property" and I'm glad that there will be much appropriate outrage here on Techdirt and on the internet.

    But be advised: Your excellent journalism and righteous outrage will mean approximately nothing. The corporations and the governments they now direct will roll right over the common sense of law, the sovereignty of countries, and the common interest of consumers.

    All we are for is working, borrowing and spending. There is a worldwide assault on the middle and working classes and it will not stop until our standard of living is barely above poverty, and we work 80 hours a week to pay off the credit cards with which we bought the consumer "goods".

    It's way too late to expect your pitiful righteous outrage to do any good. Are you ready to turn your back on your sucking consumerist lifestyle?

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    George, Aug 18th, 2008 @ 3:38pm

    How low can they go?

    What would the original Greeks in Olympia have to say? It's ashamed that a so-called Olympic sports that is (IOC) would stoop so low, down to this level all in the name of GREED $$$$. How shameful has the IOC shown itself to the world especially to China?

    GP

     

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  13.  
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    Trevlac, Aug 18th, 2008 @ 3:41pm

    I hate China and Corporations. When the two come together it's like a barrage from hell.

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Dave Z., Aug 18th, 2008 @ 3:43pm

    Re:

    The Olympics(TM) have not interested me from the time of the first professional USA Dream Team(TM) in basketball. It is no longer about amateurs, but professional atheletes. And the corporations that run them.

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Dave Z., Aug 18th, 2008 @ 3:44pm

    I wonder if the tape maker is an Olympic sponser?

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 18th, 2008 @ 3:45pm

    So, would that be 3M tape that they are using?

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 18th, 2008 @ 4:23pm

    Kinda makes a mockery of the Olympic claim that sportsmanship is key, really.

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    me, Aug 18th, 2008 @ 4:37pm

    Nothing gets

    How many new sponsorships the IOC is expecting out of this. It is conceivable, bassed on this misguided logic, they could dictate material vendors for all summer and winter games (just trying to keep this blog from a lawsuit) construction related projects. Yet if the goods are poor quality who gets stuck with them in the long run. How far will this go?

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 18th, 2008 @ 5:28pm

    Isn't that Special

    "You may recall the efforts put forth by the IOC to get special trademarks on certain words, like 2010 and Vancouver and 2012 and London ..."

    I thought that you could not patent, copyright or trademark a number. If you can, I guess Intel would like to know.
    Remember the 486 ?

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Dan, Aug 18th, 2008 @ 6:06pm

    The obvious response is to boycott the Olympics and any sponsors products. The IOC is a money grubbing commercial monopoly and the sponsors are greedy opportunists and politicians. The sooner the IOC chokes on their own vomit, the sooner the games can resume in the original intent and spirit.

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Eric, Aug 18th, 2008 @ 6:08pm

    The Olympics

    I love corporations to a degree. I hate China and I REALLY hate the Olympics. I refuse to watch ANY of the events. Too much politics. Way more than should ever be included in sports. And this whole name brand cover up is stupid. Help us all if the Chinese ever turn 100% capitalist.

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    Michael Kemp, Aug 18th, 2008 @ 6:20pm

    Re: Only in Beijing

    I suspect the British will feel just the same as the Chinese. We’ll also be just as powerless to stop it. The British Library’s “Taking Liberties” project isn’t an example of British bloody mindedness. It’s a heartfelt expression of concern by a good number of academics that the British state is becoming evermore repressive.

     

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  23.  
    icon
    Allen (profile), Aug 18th, 2008 @ 10:28pm

    Face and the farce?

    I've seen the pictures and it is a farce. I wonder if this is not a case of some official unable to admit a cock-up because he doesnt want to lose face.

    Try this scenario:

    1. original instruction cover brands that could be seen with the rings clearly implying a sponsorship relationship.

    2. Some over zealous flunky ran riot with the tape.

    3. Some Journo asks a higher level flunky "what the huh?"

    4. Higher level flunky defends the lower level flunky's actions without checking the facts.

    5. Hilarity ensues.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    identicon
    David Oliver, Aug 19th, 2008 @ 12:45am

    It does seem a bit ridiculous but to be fair the taping over of non-sponsor logo's is only happening in the actual Olympic venues, and not all over Beijing.

    I was in the Bird's Nest last night and no one was looking at what logo's were on people's clothing. Like many things in China a lot of rules & regulations are announced but not always enforced.

    The security procedures to get into venues are tight but some of the measures such as the matching of real names and photos to tickets to prevent scalping simply never happened. At some venues they do take your photo when you present your ticket but its meaningless as they never took photos when people bought the tickets. Most of my tickets have come from a scalper and I haven't had any problems.

     

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  25.  
    icon
    MadJo (profile), Aug 19th, 2008 @ 1:02am

    This type of stuff has been happening for years now.
    During the most recent World Cup of Soccer/Football, fans wearing a piece of clothing of a certain brand of beer was not allowed in the stadiums, because the brand hadn't paid for sponsorship.
    And I believe that in the previous Olympic Games it also happened.

    The IOC is not about the games anymore, it's about money, greed and power.

     

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  26.  
    icon
    PaulT (profile), Aug 19th, 2008 @ 1:14am

    @ Everyone above making disparaging comments about communism, the Chinese, even the British:

    This has nothing to do with them. This is about the IOC, and international capitalist body. It's based in Switzerland, headed by a Belgian and even has members from your glorious homeland helping to make these decisions.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    identicon
    Lisa, Aug 19th, 2008 @ 1:47am

    Every time you think that the Olympics' bizarre obsession with extra-ordinary protections on intellectual property took a step beyond ridiculous, you were probably just underestimating the International Olympic Committee, who will just keep going further and further. You may recall the efforts put forth by the IOC to get special trademarks on certain words, like 2010 and Vancouver and 2012 and London, since that's where the next two Olympics will take place.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    icon
    Peter Blaise Monahon (profile), Aug 19th, 2008 @ 3:57am

    Earlier: "... the efforts put forth by the IOC to get special trademarks on certain words, like 2010 and Vancouver and 2012 and London ..."

    International treaties and "special law" legislation protect various trademarks from competitive registrations from others, such as Smokey The Bear, the Red Cross, and the Olympics: Section 103(4) of the Amateur Sports Act of 1978, 36 U.S.C. 373(4), which defines Corporation as the United States Olympic Committee, and Section 110 of the Amateur Sports Act of 1978, 36 U.S.C. 380, which provides to the Corporation exclusive rights in specified Olympic symbols and terms for one of the organizations responsible for organizing and presenting the Olympic Games, and so on.

    ==

    Earlier: "... I thought that you could not patent, copyright, or trademark a number. If you can, I guess Intel would like to know. Remember the 486 ? ..."

    Don't confuse unrelated things:

    1 - you can USE anything in a trademark, you just can't successfully REGISTER anything with the US Trademark Office.

    2 - Intel lost "486" because it was DESCRIPTIVE, meaning that "486" merely described the product (four 8086 chips on one chip), so they were denied REGISTRATION.

    Go to the USPTO Trademark web site and search for any number ("1", "2" and so on) and find many numbers used in trademark registrations as a source identifier for good or services:

    http://tess2.uspto.gov/bin/gate.exe?f=login&p_lang=english&p_d=trmk

    ==

    Wh at we have in the opening story is an unattributed insanity, and speculations as to the source - high muck-a-mucks*, or just wanna-be underlings in the IOC or the PRC.

    The difference?

    ==

    * "high muck-a-muck" is a loose interpretation of Native American "hayo makamak" meaning "the well fed"

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    T-Zombix, Aug 19th, 2008 @ 4:59am

    Word "Sport" must be protected

    It is about time that somebody sue "Olympic committee" for using the word "Sport" in connection to anything that have any link to word "Olympic" or at least charge them for using the "Sport" as excuse for extortion. I'm sorry to say but Olympic games are as much "Sport" event as war in Iraq is Humanitarian Aid Relief Tour (♥)

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    Mr. Blankpage, Aug 19th, 2008 @ 8:19am

    Its ironic

    How news & gov'ts try to stomp on China for censorship & human rights violations, then happily go off to commit their own violations.

    Screw the Olympics. Who needs corporate crap packaged as wholesomeness?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    identicon
    Nasch, Aug 19th, 2008 @ 8:48am

    Re: Off topic

    * "high muck-a-muck" is a loose interpretation of Native American "hayo makamak" meaning "the well fed"

    "Native American" is not a language. Try again. Also that change in pronunciation from one language to another is not interpretation, but I think referred to as corruption.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
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    lolsauce, Aug 19th, 2008 @ 10:10am

    ...

    All the companies that had their logos covered should sue them. I'm sure they can come up with something to get them on... I just think it'd be funny.

     

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  33.  
    identicon
    I hate ads., Aug 19th, 2008 @ 10:13am

    heheh

    To continue on with my usual ways, any advertisement I see in these kinds of events: I will not purchase it for at least 1 year. I hate ads, they don't work, and I intend to prove it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    identicon
    Fushta, Aug 19th, 2008 @ 10:21am

    Re: Word "Sport" must be protected

    It's the "Olympic Games." They don't use the word "Sport" because most of the events in the Olympic Games aren't sports, they are merely games or activities (i.e. anything with judges who decide the outcome: gymnastics, diving, etc).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    identicon
    Fushta, Aug 19th, 2008 @ 10:23am

    Free Tape

    What is the penalty for removing the tape? It would be fun to go around after the tape-police have come through, and take it all down.

    Ha, then start covering up all of the official sponsors' names with the tape you liberated.

     

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  36.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 19th, 2008 @ 11:39am

    Re: Re:

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 19th, 2008 @ 11:46am

    Re:

    Shut up spepper. It's the opposite of communism. It's capitalism taken to the extreme. It's "You have to pay to be shown here. Otherwise, we won't even allow it to happen by accident". So stfu with your stupid communist bulshlit. Do you think movie companies don't do the same things in movies?
    It's authoritarianism, which can occur in any system that allows power to be concentrated, such as both communism and capitalism.

    Intolerance, such as telling others to "shut up", is also a hallmark of both systems.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
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    Vex, Aug 19th, 2008 @ 11:47am

    The Pirate Bay

    The IOC has sent a letter to the swedish Minister for Justice, asking her to make sure the Opening Ceremony is removed from The Pirate Bay.

    Too bad Sweden has laws against ministers handling specific cases. :)

    Still, it's pretty ridiculous.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 19th, 2008 @ 11:58am

    Re:

    It does seem a bit ridiculous but to be fair the taping over of non-sponsor logo's is only happening in the actual Olympic venues, and not all over Beijing.

    What, you mean they are breaking into people's homes all over Beijing to cover up the brands of their faucets? Thanks for clearing that up for us, Captain Obvious.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
    identicon
    John Wilson, Aug 19th, 2008 @ 3:36pm

    Re: How low can they go?

    In point of fact, the ancient Greeks would have been proud of the IOC.

    At least for the Greeks the games were as much a show of military prowess as anything else. And you can bet your sweet bippy that the people of Olympia and the Oracle there weren't giving anything away for free.

    Mind you, the ancient games tended to be blood sports and performed in the nude.

    I wonder if that was still true today....

    (giggles)

    ttfn

    John

     

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  41.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 19th, 2008 @ 5:47pm

    "In media centers, dormitories and arena bathrooms, pieces of tape cover logos of fire extinguishers, light switches, thermostats, bedroom night tables, soap dispensers ....

    and urinals."

    What is the punishment for urinating on their tape ?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 21st, 2008 @ 3:54pm

    Down with Greed!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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