The Olympic symbol is one of the most recognisable symbols in the world. Is it so easy to use?
The London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act 2006, restricts the use of words associated with the 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games in London.
These words include 2012, Twenty twelve, Two thousand and twelve in conjunction with medals, London, sponsors, summer, games, gold, silver and bronze in combination except by those who are official sponsors of the games.
Businesses who are not official sponsors of the Games cannot use any marks that could suggest the Olympics. These include words with “Olympi—” prefixes, the interlocking rings symbol and the Olympic motto “Citius, Altius, Fortius.”
The action taken
The act also allows the Games’ authorities to enter private residences and may use “reasonable force” to remove the infringing material whether commercial or non-commercial use.
The person guilty shall be fined an amount not exceeding £20,000
Used to combat ambush marketing
The draconian measures to protect the trademark are used to prevent ambush marketing. Ambush marketing enables brand owners who are not official sponsors of the Games to be associated with the Games.
During the 1996 Summer Olympics in USA, Nike bought billboard space around the venues and constructed a Nike Village near the athletes’ village. Nike went to the extent of distributing Nike flags, ‘ambushing’ Reebok, the official sponsor. Nike was immediately asked to take down their banners and the village but by then the damage was already done. Television audiences were asked to recall the names of official sponsors. 22% cited Nike while only 16% cited the official sponsors, Reebok.
During the 2008 Beijing Olympics, several countries were tuned into the Opening Ceremonies. Olympic gymnast Li Ning lit the torch. Li Ning owns a shoe company with the same name and is a direct rival of Adidas in China. Adias was an official Olympic sponsor. The irony though was that Li Ning was wearing Adidas clothing during the ceremony.