Olympics Tries To Block Olympian Newspaper (From Olympia, Washington) From Trademarking Its Name

from the and-the-gold-medal-in-trademark-pushyness-goes-to... dept

It’s no secret that the Olympics can be ridiculously over aggressive with trademark claims, often getting governments to pass special intellectual property rules to allow the Olympics special control over certain names or phrases well outside the contours of existing intellectual property law. The various Olympic committees insist they “need” this to protect their revenue stream, but we didn’t realize that gov’ts had any responsibility in helping the Olympics make lots of money. The latest move is that the US Olympic Committee is protesting a trademark application for the name of The Olympian, a newspaper in Olympia, Washington (thanks to Erik for sending that in). It would appear that the Olympian has been operating since 1889. That would be seven years prior to the first modern “Olympics” in 1896.

While I am left wondering why the Olympian suddenly decided to try to register the trademark on its name now (leading to the attempt to block the trademark), it does seem pretty ridiculous that the Olympics could suddenly claim that there might be confusion between the two after over a century of the two “brands” living together peacefully.

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Comments on “Olympics Tries To Block Olympian Newspaper (From Olympia, Washington) From Trademarking Its Name”

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ChurchHatesTucker (profile) says:

You ask a question, then answer it

“While I am left wondering why the Olympian suddenly decided to try to register the trademark on its name now (leading to the attempt to block the trademark)”

Obviously the first part was predicated on the IOC’s tendency to do the second. Better to get their claim established before the IOC starts printing a paper or somesuch.

Josh in CharlotteNC (profile) says:

Re: You ask a question, then answer it

My guess would be some IP lawyer needed some billable hours, with full knowledge of IOC/USOC litigiousness, told them, “Hey, I noticed you don’t have a trademark on your name. You gotta get this for (long list of bogus reasons). I can do this for you quick and cheap, and in the very unlikely event someone challenges it, we can discuss additional payment.”

Ryan says:

Re: Re:

I’ve heard so much about this issue, but nowhere have I read why everybody in the U.S. is so shocked that Chicago didn’t win(or got last). Seems to me that Madrid or Rio De Janeiro or whatever the other candidate was are equally appealing locations, if not more so.

The U.S. has already hosted many times and been turned down many times. This would be the first event ever for South America. Additionally, Chicago is certainly no paradise and Obama’s speech, like every speech of his, was all style and no substance. What made everybody think that Chicago was going to win, or even should have won?

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Stupid Olympics

Don’t get me started on those Jackasses right now. Chicago the least deserving bid? Please…

On topic: Does the olympics present challenges with national laws because of their inherent multi-national-ness? Or are these laws and trademark issues actually handled by the local IOCs, like the USOC for instance? If it’s the USOC, then why should they play by any rules other than their country’s?

Anonymous Coward says:


The HBR recently discussed why Olympic Sponsorship isn’t effective with a quote to supplement your analysis:

“the Olympics does its sponsors a disservice if it encourages them to think that legal enforcement is all that’s required for a rewarding sponsorship experience.”

Taken from:

btr1701 (profile) says:

Re: Olympics

> Here in Washington State, we couldn’t bid on
> hosting the Olympics because we have an
> Olympic Mountain Range that would have to
> be renamed!

Wouldn’t be a problem. Read the linked article and you’ll find that Congress specifically exempted uses of “Olympic” in Washington State from USOC jurisdiction for just that reason. Given that the law itself allows businesses in that area to use that name, I have no idea why the USOC thinks it will be successful in challenging the newspaper’s trademark application.

But McClatchy attorneys point out that
the amendment also includes a provision
that recognizes Washington state’s claim
to the Olympic name. This exception covers
naturally occurring mountains or the
geographic region named prior to Feb. 6,
1998, and where “such businesses, goods,
or services are operated, sold, and marketed
in the State of Washington west of the
Cascade Mountain range and operations,
sales, and marketing outside of this area
are not substantial.”

william (profile) says:

BAH! Olympics. It’s coming to my town very soon and I don’t like one bit on how it operates. I don’t like how the City suddenly becomes the bitch for the Olympic committee or how they are kicking, pushing, shoving everyone around for protesting the coming of Olympic games or how the Canadian government have the bend over on command.

In my town a long time running pizza store, exists well before the Olympic coming to town, was taken to court because it’s called “Olympia”. I think the case was eventually dropped though.

You can ignore the fact that most city that hosted Olympics suffered after it’s over. The whole Olympic thing is so commercialized that it’s losing the spirit of the original games. I personally haven’t cared or watched Olympics in like, 20 years.

Ed Woychowsky says:


Since the newspaper pre-dates the Olympics by seven years the name should belong to the newspaper. The Olympics has four possible choices:

1 License the name.
2 Change their name.
3 Accept that Olympics is a historical name and therefore cannot belong to anyone.
4 Continue their self destructive path.

My bet is that they’ll opt for number 4.

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: There are others the IOC/USOC can go after

“The Olympia Brewing Company and its Olympia Beer. Wonder if the IOC/USOC wants to get into a barroom brawl?

Then there is Olympia Snow Senator from Maine.

How about the USS Olympia (SSN 717)Los Angeles class attack sub?”

Well, I think those three should just enter into a Civ III style mutual protection pact. Then Senator Olympia Snow can drink a ton of Olympia Beer and issue an attack order from a USS Olympia L.A. Class attack sub upon IOC HQ.

Ah, Civ III….

Killer_Tofu (profile) says:

Stupid Olympics

I haven’t cared much about the Olympics in awhile.
The events themselves are insanely commercialize.
Too much so.
I just don’t want them anymore.
The only things I have watched, are some of our (our referring to USA, where I reside) insanely amazing athletes.

These being Michael Phelps the swimmer and our female beach volleyball team Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh.
Truly amazing at what they do.

Jason says:

You should see the IP protection the Olympics get in Canada! Section 9 of the Trade-marks Act grants special “official” marks to certain entities. The rights granted by this section trump all other user rights, even if the user preceded the granting of the official mark! If The Olympian newspaper tried to register now in Canada, they would be SOL.

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