Australia: Performance Enhancing Your Business During The Commonwealth Games

Last Updated: 20 April 2018
Article by Taryn Lovegrove, Liz Lawson and Marion Heathcote

The Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast is an exciting opportunity for the local business community to engage with the 1.5 million spectators attending the Games. However, be warned that very strict controls are in place to safeguard the Commonwealth Games brand. With at least 9 pieces of legislation1 providing various aspects of protection, it is important for businesses to understand the extent of the control extended to the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee (GOLDOC) through State and Federal laws.

With a brand protection taskforce having been established to monitor commercial activity during Games time, GOLDOC is taking a proactive approach to protecting their brand. Possible consequences for a breach range from seizure of goods to fines as high as $88,305. It is therefore imperative that the business community understands the rights granted to GOLDOC.

To assist the local business community, the following is a guide to enjoying the commercial opportunity of the Commonwealth Games and staying out of strife.

The protective measures fall into three main parts:

  1. Advertising a business in a major event area during a major event period;
  2. Using a protected image or reference without authority; and
  3. Engaging in conduct that is misleading or could indicate a sponsorship arrangement.

1. Major Event Areas and period

With 17 world-class venues spanning across the Gold Coast, Brisbane, Cairns and Townsville, legislation has been enacted setting out major event areas. These areas include competition venues and non-competition venues like transportation hubs, celebration zones, Games Villages, training venues and other nominated Games locations.

Included in the Major Events (Gold Coast Commonwealth Games) Regulation 2017 (Qld) are 130 maps identifying locations that are classified as major event areas during certain periods, some of which start before the Games and some of which end after the Games. Within this space, there are strict controls around advertising a business in general, whether or not the advertisement makes any reference to or implies an association with the Commonwealth Games. This means that if a business happens to be located within a major event area, or passes through a major event area, it cannot engage in certain activities like selling or displaying an item on a road or public land, displaying a poster or any advertisement on a property, handing out flyers, or touting for business.

With many more restrictions under the Major Events Act 2014 (Qld), it's important for the business community to educate themselves on these restrictions or face fines of between $6,307 and $88,305. The brand protection team also has authority under the Act to seize any items being distributed or sold, a very serious consequence, especially for a small business that just happens to be located within a major event area and is unaware of the rights granted to GOLDOC.

2. Protected images and references

Part of creating a memorable event is finding a way to bring spectators on an emotional journey that leads them to feel as though they are actually part of the magic. This is often achieved by creating a stand out mascot, tagline or catchy event name that the public can connect with and throw its support behind. The Commonwealth Games has an assortment of supporting imagery and taglines including mascot Borobi, the blue surfing koala.

GOLDOC has an array of legislation that controls the unauthorised use of the Commonwealth Games brand. With 79 images and references protected across 4 Acts and Regulations, and a further 26 registered trade marks and 22 images subject to copyright protection, any image or reference that relates to the Commonwealth Games is under strict lock down, including Borobi who also has special protection.

"Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games" is a protected reference. So are other words like "Coast Games", "2018 Games", "GC18", "Games Supplier" and "Gold Coast Games"

Use of a protected reference could result in potential court action or fines if a protected image or reference (or one that is considered similar) is used without authority for a commercial purpose. If a registered trade mark is used, a percentage of proceeds received from any associated sales could also be forfeited.

This does not mean that reference cannot be made to the Commonwealth Games coming to town, just that it is necessary to ensure that any reference made is a statement of fact and no commercial association is drawn between the Commonwealth Games brand and any other non-authorised business.

3. Misleading conduct / sponsorship

With so many athletes and prominent figures present on the Gold Coast, it is often tempting to post a cheeky Instagram photo with the caption #Boltsfavouritecafe or #athletescafe. Any activity that would lead a reasonable person to infer a sponsorship arrangement that does not exist could leave the person who has posted the photo and caption very unhappy. .

Along with the applicable misleading and deceptive conduct and false and misleading representation provisions under the Australian Consumer Law, there are also additional provisions which seek to restrict conduct that creates an impression of an affiliation with the Commonwealth Games when this arrangement does not exist. So while getting 'likes' and social media traction may be important, care in hashtag use is necessary to avoid attracting unwanted attention.


  • Don't use the Commonwealth Games brand without authority.
  • Think before you post. If it seems a bit cheeky, it probably is.
  • If you want to use the logo, pay for the right to do so.
  • Do not reference the Commonwealth Games in a commercial context.
  • Only make reference to the Commonwealth Games in a factual manner.
  • Before engaging in any promotional activity before, during or after the Commonwealth Games that makes reference to their brand, seek legal advice.
  • We all know Borobi is cute, but do not sell a cupcake with his face on it.

And last but not least, embrace this unique opportunity to engage with a world-class sporting event right on our doorstep, just exercise caution when doing so to ensure everyone is a winner!


1. Major Events Act 2014 (Qld); Major Events (Gold Coast Commonwealth Games) Regulation 2017 (Qld); Commonwealth Games Arrangement Act 2011 (Qld); Commonwealth Games Arrangements Regulation 2013 (Qld); Major Sporting Events (Indicia and Images) Protection Act 2014 (Cth); Major Sporting Events (Indicia and Images) Protection Rules 2014 (Cth); Trade Marks Act 1995 (Cth); Copyright Act 1968 (Cth); Australian Consumer Law (Cth)

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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