Olympics: Thou Shalt Not Tweet (Without Paying Up)

from the the-gold-medal-in-stupidity-goes-to... dept

Every time you think that the Olympics can't get more ridiculous with its attempts to abuse trademark law to control its name, they go one step further into ridiculousness. Following the threat to goggle maker UVEX for mentioning skiier and gold medalist Lindsey Vonn on its website, the US Olympic Committee is threatening Red Bull and Verizon for daring to tweet about the Olympics without first paying up. I'm not kidding. Both companies showed some basic Olympic spirit with some simple tweets, supporting some winning athletes. Here's Red Bull's "offending" twitter message:
We're rooting for you @LindseyVonn @Shaun_White @GregBretzz and @Drahlves in the 2010 Winter #Olympics!
And Verizon's:
Who are the REAL American Idols? Shaun White, Lindsey Vaughn & Shani Davis draw more viewers than American Idol
Seriously. And the US Olympics straight-faced response?
"When people partake in this kind of ambush behavior, it hurts American athletes."
Yes. Two simple tweets from companies cheering on successful Olympians are considered "ambush behavior" that "hurts American athletes." Apparently, these threats from the Olympics worked on at least Red Bull who pulled its Twitter message supporting the athletes.

This goes beyond the typical abuse of trademark law to ridiculous levels. While Verizon hasn't yet pulled its post, I would hope that it will stand up for basic free speech rights that say the Olympics has no right to tell it what it can and cannot tweet in support of the games.

Filed Under: free speech, olympics, trademark
Companies: red bull, usoc, verizon


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  1. identicon
    David, 23 Feb 2010 @ 12:35pm

    In defense of the IOC

    I know its not a popular position to take, but Verizon and Subway and others do not sponsor any major Winter Olympics athletes. When a corporation cheers for an athlete is it cheering or is it advertising? If it is advertising then the athletes or the IOC should be compensated for their names being used.

    What I see is that Verizon is too cheap to actually give money to the athletes and Subway spent all its add money on Michael Phelps, so now they try to leech off of the successes of Vonn, White, et. al. by repeatedly mentioning their products in the context of athletic successes where they have not contributed a single time to the athletes, development programs, or hosts.

    I may hate the IOC, but I hate Verizon more. At least the IOC created something of value for the athletes (a forum to showcase their skills) while ripping off everyone in sight, and trampling the free speech rights of others.

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