Following the selection of Beijing to be the venue for the 29th Olympic Games in 2008, the State Council of China has promulgated the Olympic Signs Protection Regulations to strengthen the protection of the use of Olympic signs.
Under the regulations, which came into effect on April 1 2002, no one can use any of the Olympic signs, such as the Five Continents Rings, the Olympic flags, the Olympic emblems and the Olympic anthems, for commercial purposes without the consent of the relevant rights owner such as the Olympic Committee of China.
Any party intending to use the Olympic signs must obtain a licence from the relevant rights owner, and licence must be recorded at the Trade Marks Office. According to the measures formulated under these regulations and effective from June 1 2002, the licensee is required to indicate the recordal number when using the Olympic signs. The enforcement authority, the Administration for Industry and Commerce (AIC), will issue an order of rectification in the event of non-compliance and failure to comply with the rectification order may result in a maximum fine of Rmb10,000 ($1,208).
It is worth noting that the regulations require the parties concerned in an infringement dispute to resolve their dispute initially by negotiation. If any party does not wish to negotiate or negotiations fail, the rights owner may then commence legal proceedings at court or petition the AIC. The administrative sanctions for infringement are:
issuance of an order for cessation of the infringing activities;
confiscation and subsequent destruction of the infringing goods as well as the tools used for the production thereof;
forfeiture of the profits made by the infringer arising from the unlawful acts; and
a fine of up to five times the illegal profit.
A list of Olympic signs has been filed with the General Administration of Customs for recordal of Customs’ protection and was published on May 20 2002. Imported and exported goods infringing Olympic signs may be seized by the Customs even without any request from the relevant rights owner.
The regulations are in line with the provisions of the new Trade Mark Law.
The content of this article does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied on in that way. Specific advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.
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