India: Golden Epoch Of IP Rights : "The Olympics "

Last Updated: 30 November 2012
Article by Himanshu Sharma

Most Read Contributor in India, September 2016


Olympic are said to be the biggest event on earth that happens in every four years. It has a viewership of around 4 billion and involves participation of around 204 countries. The significance of Olympics is not only because of the sporting events that are held but also because of the huge attention that it attracts. Olympics are seen as the biggest opportunity for the promotion of the business hence the stakes are very high. The problem of ambush marketing which is quite prevalent in all the recent sporting events is also seen as the biggest threat for the Olympics as well.

The London Olympic Games and Paralympics Games Act 2006

Nairobi Treaty on the Protection of the Olympic Symbol (1981) prohibits by appropriate measures, the use of any sign consisting of or containing the Olympic symbol, as defined in the Charter of the International Olympic Committee, as a mark or other sign, for commercial purposes, except with the authorization of the International Olympic Committee.

The rule laid down in the treaty is included by all countries in their Intellectual Property laws. However, it is significant to note that UK is not a signatory to the above mentioned treaty and has instead passed its own act, the Olympic Symbol etc. (Protection) Act 1995, which was amended by the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act 2006, in order to make provision in connection with the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games that are about to take place in London in 2012. The London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act 2006 created a new London Olympic Association Right giving the power to prevent unauthorized associations with the Games to the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games [LOCOG].

Apart from the trademarks, the committee is also taking care of the IP rights related to the design, copyrights and patents. All the IP rights involved in the Olympics are substantially protected and stringent protective measures are in place for any kind of infringements.

Apart from the authorized official sponsors, not even athletes taking part in Olympics are allowed to use the IP involved in the Olympics. There are several rules in place for athletes as well as for the non-sponsor businesses such as:

Rules for athletes participating in the Olympic Games1

  • Athletes cannot make any comments on social networking sites regarding other participant's activities
  • Athletes cannot post any video or audio content on social networking sites or YouTube of either the athletes' village or the interior of any Olympic venue
  • Athletes will not be allowed to 'Tweet' or blog about what brand of energy bar or breakfast cereal they have been eating unless that brand is an official sponsor of the Games

Rules for non-sponsor businesses

  • Non-sponsor businesses are not allowed to offer tickets to the Games as part of a company promotion
  • They cannot use images which could make the public think they are in some way linked or in association with the Olympics
  • Nor can they use phrases such as "Help us to make it a Gold 2012" or "Supporting our athletes at the Olympic Games 2012"

The perspective of other countries regarding the protection of IP Rights of Olympics symbols

There are only 50 signatory countries to Nairobi Treaty on the Protection of the Olympic Symbol (1981) including India. It is significant to note that the countries who are not signatory to the above treaty also provided protection to the symbol of world and national importance and gave special treatment to the Olympic symbols.

US Law on use of Olympic symbols

The Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act is a United States law (codified at 36 U.S.C. Sec. 220501 et seq. of the United States Code) that charters and grants monopoly status to the United States Olympic Committee, and specifies requirements for its member national governing bodies for individual sports. The code gives specific rights to the committee regarding the use of the Olympic symbols and governs use of the same viz the name "UNITED STATES OLYMPIC COMMITTEE"; the symbol of the International Olympic Committee, consisting of five interlocking rings; the words "Olympic, " "Olympiad" and "Citius Altius Fortius," and also the words "Paralympic," "Paralympiad," "Pan-American" and "America Espirito Sport Fraternite," or any combination of these words; the emblem of the United States Olympic Committee, consisting of an escutcheon having a blue chief and vertically extending red and white bars on the base with five interlocking rings displayed on the chief; and the symbols of the International Paralympic Committee and the Pan- American Sports Organization, consisting of a torch surrounded by concentric rings are all protected.

Law in India

The Emblems and Names (Prevention of improper use) Act, 1950

As per the law in India, any mark which is not capable of distinguishing goods or services of one person from those of another is not liable to be registered as a trademark.

Taking into consideration the above mentioned provision, the marks which are of international importance and which have their own distinctivity around the world are not permitted to be registered as a trademark in India.

In order to be protected under Emblems and Names (Prevention of improper use) Act, 1950, an emblem or name must be notified in the official gazette and included in the schedule to the Act, while the only sports –related emblem and name currently notified and protected are "the name and emblem of the international Olympic committee consisting of five interlaced rings".

Further, the Copyright Act, 1957 also provides protection to the original works of author and hence, protections to the Olympic symbols which are having artistic values are given protection. Under section 41 of the Act, special protection is provided to the works of certain international organizations. The section under sub-clause (3) specifically provides that the organizations to which this section applies are such organizations as the central government may, by order published in the official Gazette, declare to be organization of which one or more sovereign powers or the government or governments thereof are members to which it is expedient that this section shall apply.


Olympics are a great way to uniting the whole world and to bring it to a common platform thereby celebrating the spirit of humanity at large. The whole event is mesmerizing not only because of the huge participation of countries but also because of aura that Olympics have built since 1896 when modern Olympics were introduced. The games have turned into an event wherein the competition is not just in the field but outside the field as well. The rights related to organizing Olympics have turned into a major business venture from the point of view of generation of business. Protection of Intellectual property rights involved in the event has significance not only during the event but also afterwards. The success achieved due to promotion of the business in collaboration with Olympics have unparallel significance hence the rights have achieved enormous importance. Due to very same reason, unauthorized use of the rights such as ambush marketing has cropped up and event specific enactment such as "London Olympic Games and Paralympics Games Act 2006" has been passed to keep them in check. We hope that event should be a success and would give not only a new height to the Olympics in the field of sports but also in legal field in curbing the unauthorized use of the IP rights.



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.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.