If you haven't already started, the time is ripe to turn
your attention to summer fun: golf, the lake, BBQs and brand
protection. As the countdown to Rio 2016 is almost over, it's
important to remember that the Olympic and Paralympic brands are
zealously protected. On this point, the Rio 2016 Brand Protection Guidelines for
Advertisers are available online, and they're a real
The Guidelines set out the Rio 2016 Organising Committee's
position with respect to permitted versus prohibited uses of the
Olympic and Paralympic brands. Its position in certain respects in
quite clear – notably, only Rio 2016 organisers and their
official commercial partners can use the Olympic and Paralympic
brands for commercial purposes. The rationale? "It is
extremely important to ensure the partners the right to associate
themselves with the Games and preserve the emotional and
commercial value of the brands" [emphasis added].
In terms of protected elements, the Olympic and Paralympic
brands include logos, symbols, official expressions, anthems and
songs. Further, it is important to consider that Rule 40 of the
Olympic Charter states:
Except as permitted by the IOC
Executive Board, no competitor, coach, trainer or official who
participates in the Olympic Games may allow his person, name,
picture or sports performances to be used for advertising purposes
during the Olympic Games.
Finally, there are also protected elements that relate to the
Games (or sporting events more generally) that are exclusive to
other parties; for example, official marks adopted by public
authorities in Canada pursuant to the Trade-marks Act.
Any advertiser who would like to jump on the Olympic or
Paralympic bandwagon (without having to pay the sponsorship fees)
should tread very carefully. As noted in the Guidelines:
Ambush marketing is characterized by
any intentional or unintentional attempt to create a false,
unauthorised commercial association with a brand or event, in this
case Rio 2016 and the Olympic and Paralympic Movement. [...] This
practice makes the public mistakenly associate the Games with some
brands that have no relation whatsoever to the event, thus
significantly and directly harming the investment made by official
partners. The OPC and the IPC are engaged in various actions to
prevent and combat ambush marketing.
Be forewarned – while the public will be watching for
athletic drama to unfold this summer, the IOC and the IPC (and
their official partners) will be watching for any advertising that
harms their brands (and, on this point, the Canadian Olympic
Committee has its own Brand Use Guidelines). Accordingly, any
advertiser that does not carefully consider these risks before
wading into this area is probably better off sticking to golf, the
lake and BBQs.
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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