19 June 2012
Olympics Advertising: Guidance for businesses
It is hoped that the London 2012 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (“London 2012”) will bring huge rewards for businesses across the UK as a feel good factor and an influx of foreign visitors sweep across the nation. Businesses however are warned that they should be careful in misusing the London 2012 brand on merchandise or associating themselves, inadvertently or otherwise, through advertising.
Protecting the Olympic Brand
London 2012 has proved to be an expensive event to host and LOCOG has, as have its predecessors before it, raised the funds required largely through sponsorship.
Sponsors such as Samsung and Visa have paid a lot of money (many millions of pounds in some cases) to be associated with the London 2012 and to have a right to be associated with the event through the use of protected symbols, trademarks and copyright material, which together make up the London 2012 brand.
In protecting the London 2012 brand, LOCOG is simply protecting its sponsors’ interests.
The upshot of this is that businesses, unless official sponsors, will not be permitted to use the protected elements of the London 2012 brand to promote their business or associate themselves with London 2012.
The protected elements of the London 2012 brand
A. Trade marks and Designs
There are a number of protected trade marks and designs which are owned by or licensed to LOCOG. You cannot use these protected trademarks and designs without the permission of LOCOG.
To see the protected trade marks and designs click here.
B. The Olympic Symbols and Mottos
The symbols of the International Olympic Committee (“IOC”) and the International Paralympic Committee (“IPC”) are protected by the Olympic Symbol etc (Protection) Act 1995 (“OSPA”).
Also protected by OSPA are the following words and mottos and their plurals, translations and anything similar to them:
- “Citius, Altius, Fortius” and “Faster, Higher, Stronger” (IOC’s mottos)
- “Spirit in Motion” (IPC’s motto)
C. The Listed Expressions
The London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act 2006 (“2006 Act”) allows LOCOG to prevent people from creating an association between a business, goods or services and London 2012 in the course of trade. This means that you cannot run any advertising or marketing campaign which suggests that your business is associated with London 2012.
Whether a business has associated itself with London 2012 will be determined by the overall impression given by the advert but the 2006 Act lists a number of expressions which if included in an advert are likely to give rise to the conclusion that such an association has been made. The listed expressions are any two of the words in List A or a word from List A and List B e.g. 2012 Games or 2012 Gold:
- Two Thousand and Twelve
Consequences of misusing the London 2012 brand
Misuse of the London 2012 brand could lead to a range of civil and/or criminal penalties. The civil penalties include damages, injunctions and delivery up of offending goods. If a criminal offence has been committed then a conniving officer of the company can be fined up to an unlimited amount depending upon the seriousness of the offence/s.
Football clubs and club sponsors should also see our article on the use of players competing in London 2012 in advertising during London 2012 here.
The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.