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
    JustMe (profile), 24 Feb 2010 @ 6:00am

    Just in case someone from the IOC reads this

    I'll add my comments here.

    A) You are driving people away with your Orwellian world views. I don't watch summer Olympics and may not watch the closing ceremonies this weekend because I just so sick of you thinking that you are the King of Everything.

    B) Go US athletes!

    C) Re: Michial Thompson No, sorry. That isn't how the law works. In trademark law, anyone is allowed to say anything they want as long as they aren't trying to cause confusion. They also cannot misrepresent the facts. Pepsi can say "people don't like Coke" or "some Olympic athletes drink Pepsi." and both are legally allowed in the US, even if the IOC owns trademarks on the word 'Olympics'.

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