Olympics Trademark Law Insanity: Officials Can Enter Homes, Issue $10,000 Fines

from the please,-make-it-stop dept

In the past, we've noted how much the Olympics loves to overreach with trademark claims, trying to prevent anyone from using any phrase or word associated with the Olympics without having to pay up. Amazingly -- and to the detriment of the people they're supposed to represent -- politicians all too often grant the Olympics extra special trademark laws that just apply to them. Reader Jesse lets us know of the latest insanity up in Vancouver, where special new "bylaws" let officers enter homes to remove unapproved "signage" while also granting them the ability to issue fines up to $10,000. There are already lawsuits filed about this, but at what point do politicians tell the Olympics "enough is enough?" Update In the comments, reader Brendan points out that Vancouver's police chief is insisting this is an exaggeration, saying:
Just as ridiculous in my opinion, is the charge that the VPD will enter homes to confiscate signage.

Once again, I would ask that those speaking on our behalf, regardless of your motives, please stop, or at least ask us.

The additional powers that the City has obtained are intended to control unauthorized marketing.

If normal processes, such as a warning, ticket or summons, do not convince a person to abide by a by-law, in extreme circumstances, a warrant to enter premises can be obtained.

We have been assured by City license inspectors that they will be focusing on "guerrilla marketing" efforts that are prominent, and near official venues.

They will not be focusing on signage that is a political or personal statement.

The VPD has no intention of entering the home of any Vancouver resident for a sign issue during the Games. We are not the sign police.
Okay... but that still does say that they could get a warrant to enter people's homes for marketing signage. Why, exactly, should that be allowed? On personal property, if someone puts up a "guerilla marketing" sign, shouldn't that be their right?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Brendan (profile), Oct 27th, 2009 @ 11:46am

    I think you're working off an old artcile (which has been corrected)

    I believe that information is incorrect and had been since addressed with another Vancouver police press conference.

    http://www.ottawacitizen.com/sports/2010wintergames/Vancouver+will+corral+Olympic+pro testers/2134077/story.html

    Chu held a news conference Thursday to "clear the air" about the allegations that Vancouver officers were going to become the "sign police" during the February Games.

    Civil rights activists had accused the police of threatening to enter private homes to take down anti-Olympics signs.

    Chu described the claim as "ridiculous."

    "The VPD has no intention of entering the home of any Vancouver resident for a sign issue during the Games. We are not the sign police."

     

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    Brendan (profile), Oct 27th, 2009 @ 11:53am

    Re: I think you're working off an old artcile (which has been corrected)

    Found Van. Police Chief Chu's complete statement (in agreement with the article I linked to above) on the Globe & Mail:
    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/british-columbia/vancouver-police-chief-jim-chus -olympic-statement/article1334853/

     

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    Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 27th, 2009 @ 12:39pm

    Re: I think you're working off an old artcile (which has been corrected)

    Aha. Have added to the post pointing this out. Though, I'll note he does still say they can get a warrant if the signs are for marketing purposes. And I'm not sure why I shouldn't be allowed to put up a marketing sign in the window of my own home.

     

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    John Fenderson (profile), Oct 27th, 2009 @ 12:41pm

    Ooooh, I have an idea!

    Simon Fraser University marketing professor Judy Zaichkowsky said official sponsors - and the cities that want their business - are forced to fight this because ambush marketers have been so pervasive in recent years.

    "I think that's what they have to do. The problem is these sponsors put out this enormous amount of money" to be associated with the Games.


    The solution is obvious -- charge the sponsors a lot less money and don't promise such extreme exclusivity. In other words, don't be so greedy that you're willing to sell off the rights of your own citizens.

     

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    Brendan (profile), Oct 27th, 2009 @ 12:49pm

    Re: Re: I think you're working off an old artcile (which has been corrected)

    The wording seems unclear. I feel like this is to prevent bars etc. from putting up signs such as "Official Drunk House of Vancouver Olympics."

    Hopefully the police during the event adhere to the "word" of their chief. It will be pretty disappointing to hear of ridiculous abuse of power.

    (I don't live in Vancouver, I just happened to remember seeing this updated article when I saw your post.)

     

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    Free Capitalist (profile), Oct 27th, 2009 @ 12:55pm

    Oh....

    Ohhh... that's what guerrilla marketing is... I thought I was going to an Audi dealership but I ended up paying $200 to see some guy throw a hammer 30 feet.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 27th, 2009 @ 1:14pm

    Re: Re: I think you're working off an old artcile (which has been corrected)

    Well, he specifically says:

    "The VPD has no intention of entering the home of any Vancouver resident for a sign issue during the Games. We are not the sign police."

    I'm thinking that the warrants for entering properties is for cases like confiscating infringing goods that businesses refuse to drop.

     

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    Mike Masnick (profile), Oct 27th, 2009 @ 1:15pm

    Re: Re: Re: I think you're working off an old artcile (which has been corrected)

    The wording seems unclear. I feel like this is to prevent bars etc. from putting up signs such as "Official Drunk House of Vancouver Olympics."

    That's not guerilla marketing, though. That would be a false claim. So you wouldn't need these special powers.

     

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  9.  
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    Fushta, Oct 27th, 2009 @ 1:20pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: I think you're working off an old artcile (which has been corrected)

    I believe they are referring to unauthorized merchandise sales of t-shirts, etc. mho

     

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    Johnny Canada, Oct 27th, 2009 @ 1:41pm

    What they have said is it OK to have a sign that states "Olympics Suck" but you better not have one that states "Drink Pepsi" as Coke is a sponser.

     

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    Johnny Olympic, Oct 27th, 2009 @ 1:44pm

    In Any Event...

    ...The Olympics Suck. The Olympic Committee Sucks. There are just so MANY better things to do with your time. I don't support or feel ambivalent about people's rights being stepped on; it's just wrong. But you have to expect that from a multinational CORPORATE event. They will hand you your own balls if it means a few extra dollars.

    People need to finally come to the realization that the Olympics is not the event of worldwide unity that it once was. It is now a sham, and people who get overly excited about the Olympics need to get a life.

    Try this: The next time the Olympics saturates the TV stations and seemingly every conversation you try to engage in; Resist. Don't watch, don't talk about it. If people insist, find different people.

    You and I and the World will be better off for your effort.

    The Olympics are for fuck-ups and emotional retards.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 27th, 2009 @ 1:49pm

    Re: I think you're working off an old artcile (which has been corrected)

    I think you missed the point. The story was about the law itself with the point being how extreme and unfair it is. Now if even the Vancouver police think that the law is so extreme that they're promising to not fully enforce it then that just kind of confirms the point of the story, doesn't it?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 27th, 2009 @ 1:59pm

    Most jurisdictions have this right. There's nothing new.

    I think your post needs to dig into more details rather then cover the hype.

    Most jurisdictions in the US and Canada have restrictions on posters, etc. For example a commercial property can't just put up a commercial billboard. This is regulated by the municipality setting bylaws and requiring property owners to apply for permits.

    I don't believe this to be a free speech issue - but rather a regulation of commercialism.

    The legislation that was changed, simply allows for a temporary shorter notice time to allow municipalities to deal with unwanted guerrilla advertising that would normally not be allowed in the normal course of practice within the community.

    That said, there may be some cooling effects on free speech as a side effect. Interested if you could dig deeper!

     

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  14.  
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    Jesse, Oct 27th, 2009 @ 2:01pm

    I don't see how this is any different than someone being paid to have a logo painted onto their car (which is legal).

    Stop selling off our rights, VANOC. They are not yours to sell.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 27th, 2009 @ 2:07pm

    Re:

    How is VANOC selling off your rights? If VANOC's sponsors are putting up logos, etc, they like anybody else had to apply for and pay the municipality for permission to do so.

    All the city wants to do is avoid a flood of advertising all over the place. That's why they have permits in the first place!

    Or are you just saying, "please flood Vancouver with tonnes of coke and pepsi ads"?

    Where's the balance? That's what the permit system is all about.

     

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    Johnny Canada, Oct 27th, 2009 @ 2:36pm

    What this is a poorly writen law. That even the police will not enforce to the letter of the law.

     

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    btr1701 (profile), Oct 27th, 2009 @ 6:22pm

    Marketing

    > On personal property, if someone puts up a "guerilla
    > marketing" sign, shouldn't that be their right?

    In America it would be. Even the Olympics and their lobbyists can't trump the 1st Amendment.

     

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    teknosapien (profile), Oct 27th, 2009 @ 9:25pm

    umm maybe take a look at where you are from before

    making statements like this
    "...but that still does say that they could get a warrant to enter people's homes for marketing signage. Why, exactly, should that be allowed? On personal property, if someone puts up a "guerrilla marketing" sign, shouldn't that be their right?"
    by that comment you are under the assumption that everyone has the right to do and say as they please, this is not necessarily so. Your mileage may vary dependent on the country in which you reside

     

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  19.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 28th, 2009 @ 2:51am

    Re: umm maybe take a look at where you are from before

    by that comment you are under the assumption that everyone has the right to do and say as they please,

    You seem to be confused about the difference between a question and a statement.

     

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  20.  
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    Gene Cavanaugh, Oct 28th, 2009 @ 9:29am

    Signage and the Olympics

    You said "Okay... but that still does say that they could get a warrant to enter people's homes for marketing signage. Why, exactly, should that be allowed? On personal property, if someone puts up a "guerilla marketing" sign, shouldn't that be their right?"

    I agree with you in principle - the Olympics are abusing our personal rights. However, here I read this as saying "if there is a known problem in signage being distributed in an unlawful manner, and we find that the signage is being stored ready for distribution, we can get a warrant to enter."

    That is a totally different thing. It is something like having guns being sold and distributed to criminals, and the police find that the storehouse for this behavior is at a certain address - while I would oppose them getting a warrant to enter and seize legal personal weapons (even though I don't like the idea of personal weapons) I support having the police combat the distribution of illegal weapons to criminals.

     

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  21.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 28th, 2009 @ 10:34am

    Re: Signage and the Olympics

    However, here I read this as saying "if there is a known problem in signage being distributed in an unlawful manner, and we find that the signage is being stored ready for distribution, we can get a warrant to enter."

    Do you have a source for that? Because I didn't see that anywhere in the linked article. It did, however, mention people who displayed signs in the windows of their own homes. I think that is what the cops would be going after in people's homes fining them $10,000 a pop for.

     

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  22.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 31st, 2009 @ 7:23pm

    Why do they have a trademark on the term "Olympic"?

    I recall noticing that the first edition of the OED (published before the introduction of the Modern Olympic Games) defined "olympic" as an interval of every 4 years. How is it that this term was allowed to be trademarked by the IOC? Why hasn't anyone challenged the trademark based on the fact that the word had a well-known meaning based on ancient usage, long before the resumption of the Olympic games?

     

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  23.  
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    John, Dec 15th, 2009 @ 10:07am

    Welcome to the People's Republic of British Columbia

    With so many mainland Chinese living in BC, it should be no surprise that the BC government has adopted proven strategies from the Mao playbook.

     

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  24.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Dec 17th, 2009 @ 10:17pm

    It was in 2 of the local papers this week that Olympics volunteers wearing running shoes other than those of official sponsors will have to cover up the offending logos with tape. The Olympic committee has finally completely lost its collective mind!

     

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  25.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 29th, 2013 @ 1:35pm

    Or maybe they're bored with Mao.

     

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


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