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What legal protection do those Olympic Trade Marks have?

Mar 23, 2012

As we said in our last Blog, the Olympic Trade Marks are legally protected by a combination of registered trade marks.   Way back in 1995 extra protection was given by Parliament through the “Games' Marks: the Olympic Symbol etc. (Protection) Act 1995” referred to as “OSPA”. This protected the Olympic and Paralympic symbols, mottos and various words. However, following the announcement that London had been awarded the Games for 2012, the Government saw it necessary to give added protection, this was provided by the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act 2006. This prevents the creation of an unauthorised association between people, goods or services and London 2012.  

There are very few instances where the Olympic Trade Marks can be used without the consent of the Olympic Commission. Journalists may use the Olympic Trade Marks in their editorial news pieces without consent and can even go as far as using the emblem to illustrate an editorial piece about the Games. However, this does not apply to businesses that produce newsletters, client bulletins or other marketing collateral. You will note that in our last Blog we referred you to the Official London 2012 website so you could view the Olympic Trade Marks for fear of infringement for this very reason!  

The only other exception applies to businesses that have traded under an ‘Olympic’ name for many years prior to the 1995 Act, therefore allowing established businesses to continue to trade under that name in the same way they had done prior to 1995.   Given the exceptions are narrow, are you Defenceless if you use the Olympic Trade Marks?  

In relation to trade marks there are a number of other Defences under the Olympic Symbol (Protection) Act 1995 and the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act 2006. These include;  

1)      use in a context which is not likely to suggest an association between your business and the Olympic/Paralympic Games or the Olympic/Paralympic movement;  

2)      use when publishing or broadcasting a report or information about the Olympic/Paralympic Games or the Olympic/Paralympic movement;  

3)      the free movement of goods within the EU, where those goods have entered the EU market with the consent of the Olympic Commission; and  

4)       Use of a registered trade mark.  

The above seems to be straight forward, but what does the “Use of a registered trade mark” Defence mean?  

Since the 1995 legislation it has been close to impossible to register trade marks which might infringe those Olympic Trade Marks and therefore, presumably this must mean that those registered trade marks held prior to the 1995 Act would be a valid Defence… it does not mean you can now register a trade mark which would infringe the Olympic Trade Marks, as this would not now be possible.  

In addition to all the rights mentioned above, there are special regulations which control advertising and trading in open spaces around our venues during the Games. The regulations make it unlawful to trade or advertise in the “Event Zones” unless you are authorised by the Olympic Commission.  

Click on the links below to read the additional blogs in our series on the Olympic Trade Marks:   Trade mark issues affecting the London 2012 Olympic Games Who can use the Olympic Trade Marks? What will the Olympic Commission do if you infringe their Olympic Trade Marks?