Vancouver Olympics 'Brand Protection Guidelines' Almost Entirely Arbitrary

from the where-do-we-include-the-drake-equation dept

Marcus Carab writes "VANOC (the Vancouver Olympics organization) has a 22-page booklet on their site covering trademark issues around the Olympics.

Most of it isn't new, but I found the description of their method (starts on page 12) to be very interesting. They describe a rubric with six categories that they use to determine if any given reference to the Olympics is potentially infringing. There are a few things about the method that stood out to me (beyond the broader fact that they are essentially attempting to rewrite trademark law as they see fit):
  • Each category is scored from 1 to 3, with a lower score being ideal. There is no option for zero in their ranking, and yet the final grading scale begins with "Unlikely to Infringe" rather than "Not Infringing"
  • They offer a bunch of examples and walk you through the math, then they ignore the outcome in some of them. Seriously. A bakery called "Olympic Bakery" that has existed since 1965 scores a 10 out of 18 on their system ("potential infringement"). Almost as if they realized how ridiculous that was while writing it, they decided to say it falls under "unlikely to infringe" even though it very clearly doesn't by their own math. A few pages later, a Winter Festival scores a "potential infringement", but they class it as "likely to infringe" with no explanation given.
Mostly this is just the same old Olympic shenanigans, but I found this booklet quite illustrative of just how ridiculous things can get."


It sounds kind of like the way they judge some of the events in the Olympics themselves.

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  1. identicon
    John, 29 Jan 2010 @ 1:30pm

    How about McDonalds?

    I heard a story about how McDonalds (the burger chain) was trying to shut down a Scottish restaurant with the same name. The place was is Scotland and it had been operating in a tiny village since the 1600's (or maybe 1700's) and no one outside of the village really knew or cared about the place... until the burger chain decided the place was "violating their trade name" or some such.
    Can anyone verify this story or is just an urban legend?

    And how can the IOC (or anyone else) even claim to be able that a restaurant which opened in 1965 somehow violates the trademark of the 2010 Olympics? Since when is trademark retro-active? Gee, it was nice enough for them to say it was "not infringing" or however they put it.
    While they're at it, why not sue half the businesses in Olympia, Washington just because they have similar sounding names?

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