In the build up to the Sochi Olympic Games, it is not just the
security cordon that is on full alert. The Canadian Olympic
Committee is aggressively pursuing any unauthorized use of its
trade-marks in advertising and on products by businesses hoping to
trade on the Olympic buzz. This would include SOCHI and SOCHI
2014 and a host of other brands, both words and logos, that suggest
an association with the Games, such as:
Ambush marketing or, as the COC sees it, taking an Olympic
position in your advertising without paying for it, will not be
A Canadian retailer recently launched a line of clothing bearing
the date of the opening ceremonies and promoted materials that
included Olympic trade-marks. Those marks were removed, but
the COC is insisting that the entire line of clothing be pulled
from shelves. This response is nothing new – brands
were forced to remove clothing with Olympic references on them
during London 2012 as well – but the COC has recently stated
that it will protect the interests of its commercial rights
partners in a "very aggressive way". Ambush
Further, what many businesses may not know is that the Olympic
Charter prevents athletes, coaches and officials who participate in
the Games from allowing their name, picture, or performance to be
used in any advertising from 7 days before the Games begin
until 3 days after they conclude, without the prior consent of the
IOC. This Rule in the Olympic Charter extends to all
advertising even by official Olympic sponsors.
While capitalizing on the Olympics may seem like a winning
strategy, it is not just ambush marketers looking to make a sly
reference to the Games that should be wary – official
sponsors must be cautious, too.
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