BEWARE! Olympic brand is fiercely protected

BEWARE! Olympic brand is fiercely protected


Author: Philip Ryan

The Olympic Games is a huge 'brand', commanding global media attention for advertisers, it represents a golden opportunity for a marketing boost. However, it is also one of the most fiercely protected brands in the world, with complex legal protection.

The example of the 30 Dutch ladies arrested during the World Cup 2010 for ambush marketing for a Bavarian beer company should serve as a stark warning for businesses hoping to boost sales off the back of the Olympic brand whilst not paying the large dues required of sponsors and key partners. This article explores a few areas where businesses could fall foul of the complex regulations.

The Olympic Symbol, Etc (Protection) Act 1995 confers exclusive rights on the British Olympic Association, and any sponsors it authorises, to use certain words and symbols clearly associated with the Olympics. The aim is to restrict unauthorised users from projecting an association with the Olympic Games by using words that could indicate this.

The London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act 2006 brings in further restrictions, specifically for the 2012 Games. It grants authorised persons and organisations exclusive rights in relation to the use of any representation (of any kind) in a manner likely to suggest to the public an association between the London Olympics 2012 and goods or services, or a person who provides goods or services. Unauthorised advertising that creates an impression that a business or product has an association with the London 2012 Olympic Games will infringe this right.

Specifically, businesses cannot use any of the following Olympic marks or symbols (or anything so similar it creates an association) as part of your business or trade or to describe or advertise your business, products or services:

You can't use any one of these:  You can't use any two of these:  You cant use any one of these with any one in the previous column:
the Olympic motto Citius, Altius, Fortius Games Gold/ Silver /Bronze
 the Paralympic motto Spirit in Motion  2012  Medals
 the Olympic five rings symbol  Two Thousand and Twelve  London
 the Paralympic logo  Twenty Twelve  Sponsor (s)





The London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (Advertising and Trading) (England) Regulations 2011 bring in temporary restrictions to advertising and trading in open public places, within a few hundred metres around competition venues during the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Most advertising in certain areas around the venues will only be permitted if authorised by the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Companies as well as directors, managers and senior staff caught ambush marketing around the 2012 Games events will be in breach of the Regulations. Contravention of the advertising prohibition in the Regulations may constitute a criminal offence (resulting in a criminal record and fines of up to £20,000 per offence).