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Olympics Committee Forces Oregon Restaurant To Change Its Name

from the the-trigger-happy-thug-with-the-IP-boomstick dept

The next Olympic games may be more than a year away but that’s not stopping the International Olympic Committee from forcing a business — located nowhere near any upcoming Olympic site and with more than a half-decade of uncontested use — to change its name. [h/t to Techdirt reader The Baker]

In just six years, Portland, Oregon’s Olympic Provisions has gone from a small restaurant with an attached charcuterie facility to a major brand complete with Portlandia immortality and an upcoming cookbook. And now it has to change its name, thanks to a cease-and-desist notice from the International Olympic Committee, the organization that coordinates the Olympic Games. OP co-founder/meat-maker Elias Cairo says OP’s two restaurants (one of which has been a longtime member of the Eater Portland 38) and meat department will soon re-brand into Olympia Provisions, bypassing the trademark dispute by altering one letter.

The former Olympic Provisions says it was caught up in the IOC’s periodic “random sweeps” — which sounds an awful lot like the sort of behavior one district court memorably called out when dealing with a trademark bully.

The owner of a mark is not required to constantly monitor every nook and cranny of the entire nation and to fire both barrels of his shotgun instantly upon spotting a possible infringer.

But that is very much the way of the IOC, and it monitors every nook and cranny of the entire world with its fingers on the trigger. The cease-and-desist it sent to the former Olympic Provisions was so overwrought that the owners first thought it was a joke. But a discussion with its lawyers made it clear it wasn’t. The IOC’s tactics would be laughable if only they weren’t so often successful and damaging to the businesses on the receiving end.

“We start looking around at everything we’ve branded, from packaging to restaurants to delivery trucks,” Cairo says of the costs to change OP’s name. “To put a dollar figure on it would be impossible.”

The IOC doesn’t care about the source of the business names it finds infringing. It will make exceptions for businesses located around geographic features that already carry the name “Olympic,” pretty much limiting US use of the term to the Washington area. And the local arm of the IOC — the United States Olympic Committee — will step in if the marketed goods bearing an Olympic brand are sold outside of that region.

Olympic Provisions, however, is named for a historic building — something the IOC won’t permit, although it has “graciously” allowed the business a little time to make the change.

For Olympic Provisions — which was named after the building that houses its first restaurant, Portland’s historic Olympic Mills building — they’ve reached a deal with the IOC that will allow them to slowly phase out the old OP labels and branding. (The short-term solution involves simply stamping a letter “A” on top of the existing labels; the OP team expects to be completely rebranded by this summer.)

The IOC claims it fears trademark dilution when defending its aggressive domination of the word “Olympic,” but only comes off as unhinged and paranoid. But most entities don’t have the funds to engage in legal warfare with this brand giant, so it often needs nothing more than a threatening letter to assure compliance.

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Companies: international olympic committee, olympic provisions, us olympic committee

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Comments on “Olympics Committee Forces Oregon Restaurant To Change Its Name”

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DigDug says:

Ban the Olympics world-wide, end them...

They are a complete joke, making billions off of the injuries and deaths of the competitors.

F’ em, F’ em all – just strap some lead around the rotund waists of the IOC members, drop them into a vat of boiling acid lined with razor blades, grind up what’s left, and use it to mix with the concrete to make the memorial for what “USED” to be something good, which is now just a cash grab by a bunch of psychopathic sycophants.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

The viciousness of the IOC

That this sort of thing from the IOC has become routine is why I make it a point to avoid purchasing anything from companies that have marketing tie-ins with the Olympic Games.

I have a fervent wish that the word “Olympics” will eventually become toxic enough that they have problems finding sponsors. I know it’s very unlikely, but one can dream.

art guerrilla (profile) says:

Re: The viciousness of the IOC

  1. they have been caught in endless bribery schemes, they are not actors with clean hands…
    2. apparently, countries are slowly waking up to the fact that -similar to major sports teams who extort new stadiums, etc- bidding on/getting the olympics is a MONEY LOSING scheme, and only a few insiders, contractors, etc derive much of any benefit on the backs of mere citizens who finance the insane money-eating ‘villages’ and venues…
    hosting the olympics means you LOSE money, you are STUCK with bonds for decades, and the proposed ‘villages’ and venues become white elephants that invariably do NOT pay off in any way…

    as digdug so colorfully put it initially, losing a lot of interest in the sham sports, the bullshit propaganda, etc…
    LOVE the idea of the olympics, but the implementation is horrid…
    WHY wouldn’t they just have ONE permanent venue for summer olympics, and ONE permanent venue for winter olympics ? ? ?
    what would be wrong with that ? ? ?
    oh, you mean they couldn’t fleece new marks every four years, i see your point… snicker

Anonmylous says:

I really hope someone hears this story and offers to take it as a pro-bono case, the IOC is ripe for a massive black eye with all the negative coverage the last decade about their bullshit. They are close to being on their last legs and I won’t cry when they are gone. Something else will replace them, perhaps multiple associations for the advancements of sports individually.

geoffreyps (profile) says:

Blame Congress

I’m trying to find the specifics, but my understanding is that congress gave the IOC a much broader trademark for the words “Olympic” and “Olympian” through a special bill. It has been quite annoying to businesses in Washington located on the Olympic Peninsula, near the Olympic National Park, with a state capitol of Olympia.

musterion (profile) says:

Re: Blame Congress

Not a problem, really, the IOC will make the State of Washington change all the names. Oh yeah, heaven help anyone who tries to revive “Olympia Beer” brand. The so-called “Olympic Movement” is a farce, and nothing but a means to get money, sort of like all the other international sports governing bodies like FIFA (football), FIA (auto racing), UCI (cycling). Generaly a bunch of self-interested bureaucrats (and generally European) who mulct these sports for all they are worth.

Anonymous Coward says:

Olympics have lost so much value anyway.

This is what happens when your brand has lost so much value, all you can do is this to try to retain value.

I can say that I have not seen any olympic event in over 20 years. It was valuable when we didnt have access to world wide competition years ago, but now it is just redundant.

LVDave (profile) says:

Re: Olympics have lost so much value anyway.

The last time I paid any significant attention to the Olympics was in 1972, when I was in the US Army, stationed in Germany, and got a ticket to an event, which just happened to be scheduled on the day the terr-ists shot up the place… Since then, I could not care less about them.. And I get the feeling that this “don’t care” attitude is becoming more prevalent, especially with these over-the-top IOC antics…

bdj says:

The Olympics suck

They bring no value, the athletes get nothing, local communities are often left with new unfair laws once the IOC has rolled through, they damage local economies, they violate citizens’ rights, they don’t pay taxes, they support heavy-handed policing and are simply toxic to society… I could keep going but why bother? Nothing will change because the world is filled with dumbed down consumers who just don’t give a shit.

Anonymous Coward says:

A slave call girl from Sardinia named Gedophamee was attending a great but as yet unnamed athletic festival 2500 years ago in Greece.

In those days believe it or not the athletes performed naked.

To prevent unwanted arousal while competing, the men imbibed freely on drink containing saltpeter (opposite effect to Viagra) before and throughout the variety of events.

At the opening ceremonial parade Gedophamee observed the first wave of naked magnificent males marching toward her and she exclaimed: ” OH!! Limp Pricks!”

Over the next two and a half millennia that morphed into ” Olympics”.

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