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Trade Marks Are Ring Fenced for the Olympics

The Guardian, in a piece headlined 'You can say it's 2012…but unless you're a sponsor don't mention the Olympics', wrote about the extensive constraints on companies when it comes to anything associated with the Olympics.  

In 2006 the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act was passed, which, together with the Olympic Symbol (Protection) Act of 1995 provides "a special level of protection to the Games and their sponsors over and above existing copyright or contract law.” 

Be warned, “a breach of these acts is a criminal offence".

The Guardian noted that “as well as introducing an additional layer of protection around the word "Olympics", the five-rings symbol and the Games' mottoes, the major change of the legislation is to outlaw unauthorised "association". This bars non-sponsors from employing images or wording that might suggest too close a link with the Games. “

This means that all of the following expressions could be considered a breach of the rules:

  • Games
  •  Two Thousand and Twelve
  •  2012
  • Twenty-Twelve

Using one of those words with London, medals, sponsors, summer, gold, silver or bronze is another likely breach.

Director of Trade Mark Direct (www.trademarkdirect.co.uk) Mark Kingsley-Williams said:  “While the Olympics pose opportunities for businesses, The London Organising Committee of the Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) is tasked with defending the intellectual property of the 2012 Games against unauthorised use and any business that plans to capitalise on the Games needs to ensure that they’re aware of what they can and can’t say.”

Let the games begin (are we allowed to say that?!)! 

Case Study:  Café Olympic in Stratford, East London

Café Olympic, which is located near the London Olympic Stadium, was forced to change its name this week by LOCOG (The London Organising Committee of the Games and Paralympic Games). 

The owner decided against an expensive signage change so instead has rubbed out the ‘O’ on the front of his café and is now welcoming customers as ‘Café Llympic’.

Useful Information

See a visual representation of all the Protected Games’ Marks including names, words, marks, logos and designs: http://www.london2012.com/documents/brand-guidelines/guide-to-protected-games-marks.pdf

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