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


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
Related Topics
Related Articles
Related Video
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
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

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 or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq 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 of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions