Don't Say 2012 Olympics Unless You've Paid Your Licensing Fee

from the IP-gone-mad dept

The Olympics are notorious for getting local governments to grant them extra special intellectual property rights that go so far beyond what's reasonable (and local existing laws) that it's become something of a pure mockery of the concept of intellectual property. Remember how non-sponsored brands found in and around the Olympics in Beijing were covered by tape? Well, that may be nothing compared to what's going to happen in London. Two years ago, we noted that the Olympics had convinced UK officials to create a special trademark law, just for the Olympics that gave special protections to a variety of terms relating to the Olympics, including 2012, games, gold, silver and bronze. Yes, if you were to say "reach for the gold in 2012" as part of any advertisement and you weren't an approved Olympic sponsor, you'd be breaking the law in the UK.

Even though this all happened two years ago, it appears that a variety of companies are waking up to how ridiculous this is. A marketing body in the UK has now released a report detailing how draconian the law is for marketers. The one thing that's still never been explained is why governments would grant these rights -- which go well beyond traditional trademark rights -- to the Olympics, which isn't exactly hurting for sponsors. What's wrong with applying traditional trademark law to the Olympics as well?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Colm O'Connor, Sep 24th, 2008 @ 10:53am

    To sweeten the deal

    London *really* wanted the olympics in 2012. It wouldn't surprise me if the olympic delegation lobbied for these changes in order to make London a more attractive location when they were campaigning in singapore.

    After all, these changes in law can be sneaked through with relatively little cost to the government and it translates into extra cash for the olympic committee (i wonder where it all goes...)

     

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  2.  
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    Norm, Sep 24th, 2008 @ 10:59am

    Apparently the money

    It cost millions to host the Olympics and offering the extra special marketing protection allows them to charge more for the marketing rights. At least that would seem to be the only logical reason.

     

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  3.  
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    Jake, Sep 24th, 2008 @ 11:06am

    Re: To sweeten the deal

    Correction; the British government wanted the Olympics in 2012. The people of London or the rest of Great Britain aren't quite as universally enthusiastic. Though since the IOC has apparently bullied us into dropping plans to host events at existing sports facilities around the UK and put the athletes up in London's many perfectly good hotels in favour of a lot of purpose-built facilities that will languish unused for five years before getting knocked down or sold off to a national chain of gymnasiums or something, it's now London's own problem.

     

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  4.  
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    Mr.E, Sep 24th, 2008 @ 11:08am

    So does that mean Tv channel UKGold will not be able to show re-runs of "Going for Gold"?

     

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  5.  
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    Scott, Sep 24th, 2008 @ 11:12am

    You must have a Gold Account to read this post.

    Gold, Silver and Bronze are trademarked? Well, then. Shall we test this out? Did you see Gold is up today? Don't tell Yu-Gi-Oh! fans their playing cards may infringe on Olympic trademark.

    Sale of intangibles. It's the way to go!

     

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  6.  
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    bob, Sep 24th, 2008 @ 11:14am

    This is one reason I don't watch the olympics.
    I stopped watching when they went to the every other year format.
    These games need to be non-profit (I don't think they make a profit anyway) and all reporting needs to be free and open.
    Anyone who can see or participate in an event should be able to report on it. I'd go so far as to say they should ban pro athletes again, but we know that won't happen.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 24th, 2008 @ 11:35am

    Can we still say FUCK the olympics?

     

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  8.  
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    bobino boberano, Sep 24th, 2008 @ 11:46am

    Re: You must have a Gold Account to read this post.

    Do not laugh, the game Legend of the Five Rings actually got in trouble for using the five ring design, which teh olympic committee said was a trade mark.

    You can read about it on wikipedia
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legend_of_the_Five_Rings#International_Olympic_Committee

     

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  9.  
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    guy one, Sep 24th, 2008 @ 12:05pm

    i said

    i said Fuckit to the olympics when the x games came out, way better of a show. and i am just not a big fan of foreigners (i know there are foreigners in the x games)

     

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  10.  
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    some random guy, Sep 24th, 2008 @ 12:22pm

    one million ways to spell viagra

    from my reading of it, the phrase "two-oh-one-two gamez" is still usable!

     

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  11.  
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    vidiot (profile), Sep 24th, 2008 @ 12:36pm

    It's not unusual to "protect your brand", but this is over the top... sheer avarice. I tried to license a newsreel clip from British Pathe' on the city of Grenoble in 1967 (pre-Olympics[TM]). Street scenes, OK -- but 5 seconds of news footage from the Olympic[TM] Stadium was blocked by you-know-who. Senseless.

     

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  12.  
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    Yakko Warner, Sep 24th, 2008 @ 12:46pm

    Getting in trouble

    So would I be in big trouble if I hung a "2012 Olympics" sign on my branded community?

     

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  13.  
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    Yakko Warner, Sep 24th, 2008 @ 12:56pm

    Re: Re: You must have a Gold Account to read this post.

    Took me a while, but I found a copy of the image in question:
    http://l5rshop.com/images/l5r_old.jpg

    And a link to the "World Intellectual Property Organization" page: Summary of the Nairobi Treaty on the Protection of the Olympic Symbol (1981).

    <sarcasm>Yeah, I can see how that could possibly be confused with the actual Olympic symbol.</sarcasm>

     

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  14.  
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    Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased), Sep 24th, 2008 @ 1:03pm

    Work around

    "reach for the gold in 2012"

    "reach for the Au in MMXII"

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 24th, 2008 @ 1:34pm

    Olympics?

     

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  16.  
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    Vogon Alert, Sep 24th, 2008 @ 1:44pm

    Re: Re: Re: You must have a Gold Account to read this post.

    Hey Yakko,

    You have valid points, but be careful to ensure you have the triplicate forms on hand with proper approvals for use that Sarcasm tag.

     

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  17.  
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    kevjohn, Sep 24th, 2008 @ 2:00pm

    burn my passport

    I'm going to have to stop coming to this site. You guys are totally destroying any desire I have of ever visiting London.

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 24th, 2008 @ 2:46pm

    2012 Olympics

     

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  19.  
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    Jason, Sep 24th, 2008 @ 3:38pm

    Re:

    Yes, as long as you don't specify which year or what kind of medal you expect to win for doing so.

     

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  20.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 24th, 2008 @ 6:22pm

    Now what is the precious metals industry going to do in 2012, since they are now prohibited from mentioning the year and their products in the same sentence even if it has nothing to do with a certain sporting event?

     

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  21.  
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    Dan, Sep 25th, 2008 @ 12:07am

    How about >2011

     

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  22.  
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    Graf - UK, Sep 25th, 2008 @ 1:23am

    No 20

    Well they could brand their items as gold made after 2011 and before 2013?

    I know some jewellers are going to try and sell us our own 2012 gold. I wonder how they will market that.

     

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  23.  
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    Vincent Clement, Sep 25th, 2008 @ 4:50am

    Re: Work around

    Don't give them new examples to protect ;)

     

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  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 25th, 2008 @ 1:59pm

    Re: Work around

    Roman numerals belong to the NFL. You can't go around using them because in MMMCMLXXVI there might be confusion between what you're doing and Super Bowl(TM) MMXII.

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 10th, 2009 @ 3:03am

    Don't give them new examples to assult
    FTFY

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    Daniel Dwase, Feb 27th, 2010 @ 10:49pm

    I'm breaking the law

    This is a ridiculous idea. How can 2012 olympics be granted these trademark wars. I live right next to the olympic stadium and I think having a peek at it now and again I'll be also breaking trademark laws.

     

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