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?

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Comments on “Olympics Trademark Law Insanity: Officials Can Enter Homes, Issue $10,000 Fines”

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25 Comments
Brendan (profile) says:

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+protesters/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.”

Anonymous Coward says:

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?

John Fenderson (profile) says:

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.

Johnny Olympic says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: 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.

teknosapien (profile) says:

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

Gene Cavanaugh (profile) says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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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