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. icon
    Alan Gerow (profile), 23 Feb 2010 @ 1:14pm

    Re: In defense of the IOC

    So, the Olympics can never be mentioned by anyone without paying them first? Oops, I owe the IOC a charge, because I made a comment that mentioned them, and the comment is advertising for my point of view, and I'm using the power of the Olympics brand to push my point of view of freedom and liberty ... I guess I owe the IOC a ton of money now, too.

    And the athletes bring the value, not the IOC. You have that entire concept backwards. Would you rather watch the snowboarders in the Winter X Games or on your local slopes tearin' it up ... or watch video of the Olympic downhill track with nobody on it or if it were filled with a bunch of local kids just learning how to not fall down?

    Do people only watch hockey games once every four years? Would the Olympic hockey rink be nearly as interesting if the hockey players weren't there or if it were filled with random Joe BlowBeerguts slapping away?

    No, the IOC brings little value to the Olympics, it's the training and hardwork of the athletes and their coaches that create the value, and the IOC is banking off of their value and charging everyone else who even mentions any of the athletes or the event by name.

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