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Beware of Laws Protecting the Olympic Brand

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Businesses keen to support British athletes this summer need to take care that they don’t fall foul of the law by using an Olympic logo, marks or phrases for unauthorised promotional purposes.

It is understandable that businesses are making the most of sales opportunities created by this summer’s events, but they should not use the 2012 Olympic logo or associated images and words without first obtaining written permission from LOCOG (London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games). Failure to do so could leave them open to legal action, including being sued for any losses incurred by devaluing the Olympic brands.

hlw Keeble Hawson logoThe London 2012 Olympic brand and all associated Olympic marks and phrases have double protection in law. These brands benefit from the usual legislative protections afforded to intellectual property (such as trade mark rights, design rights and copyright). They are also protected by various additional pieces of legislation including the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act 2006 and the Olympic Symbol etc (Protection) Act 1995.

Protection of the brands is likely to be strictly enforced and businesses must not use any Olympic marks which suggest they have an association with the Games without permission. This is unlikely to be granted if use of the marks is for commercial benefit or in any way suggests the business or products are officially linked with the Olympic Games. Use of the marks is reserved for official sponsors and licensees.

In practice an infringement could involve the use of two of the following terms together: ‘Games,’  ‘2012’, ‘Two Thousand and Twelve,’ ‘Twenty Twelve’ and any one of these alongside any mention of ‘gold’, ‘silver,’ ‘bronze,’ ‘London’ and ‘medals.’ A business could, for example, say they offer ‘the 2012 service’ but not ‘the 2012 Gold service’ or ‘the London Games service.’

Those who breach the rules will probably receive an initial request from LOCOG to refrain but if it is a serious or persistent breach, LOCOG can take enforcement action. This will include obtaining injunctions to deliver up or dispose of any infringing goods or materials. A business could also be sued for damages for any losses LOCOG have suffered as a result, or for the profits created from any infringing goods.

For further information on this case or for any advice on any Intellectual Property issue, please contact Deborah Niven on 0114 2521401 or Rebecca Kelly on 0113 3993486

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