Following the announcement on 6 July 2005, and the obvious joy of having the world’s largest sporting event on our front door, British businesses started to see ££ signs!

With even characters in Eastenders plotting to make their millions from merchandising ahead of the event, business owners were contemplating how to make money out of this once in a life time opportunity. However, how realistic is this?

Once the Games were awarded to London, the Olympic Commission began to put out for tender licences for businesses to exploit the Games. Those who were chosen to be Official commercial partners, sponsors, suppliers and licensees were granted the right to use the Olympic Trade Marks in accordance with the terms of their agreements. A full list of those who are Official providers is available from the Official site.

The Olympic Commission has sought to protect those who had been officially licenced to provide merchandising to the public under the Olympic banner. Those businesses who exhibit at the various trade shows across the country will have seen the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games “tent” which have dominated those trade shows in recent years.   The official providers of London 2012 Olympic merchandising have created products ranging from bags to wrist bands, toy vehicles to pillow cases and t-shirts to cups.

So what if you are not in the Olympic “tent”?  If you are not an Official provider and want to take part you do so with the risk of infringing the myriad of trade marks held by the Olympic Commission.

The commercial use of any of the Olympic Trade Marks (or any other marks or logos that are confusingly similar to or likely to be mistaken for them), is only permitted with the authorisation of the Olympic Commission, which is reserved for Official sponsors and licensees. This means these marks cannot be used on goods, in business names, on business papers or in advertising. In addition, it is unlawful to falsely represent any association with London 2012 or even the British Olympic or Paralympic Teams! However, if you wish to join “The London 2012 Inspire programme”, it allows its members to use the London 2012 Inspire mark for non commercial reasons. So, the message is, you can get involved, but you just can not make any money from it! In any event, membership is granted for those who can demonstrate that their projects, events and programmes are genuinely inspired by the Games.

The other category who can use the Olympic Trade Marks are schools that become part of a “Get Set” network which is available to those who use the Olympic Commission’s special education mark to demonstrate their commitment to the Olympic and Paralympic Values. Again, you can not make any money from that!

However, if you are not a supplier of the Official merchandise you can become a stockist of London 2012 and sell that mechanise through your retail business. This can be done by contacting the Olympic Commission through their website.   So, if you are not in the “tent”, but want to try your luck anyway and infringe the Olympic Commission’s trade marks, what will happen?

Read the additional blogs in our series on the Olympic Trade Marks to find out the answer and for further information:   Trade mark issues affecting the London 2012 Olympic Games What legal protection do those Olympic Trade Marks have? What will the Olympic Commission do if you infringe their Olympic Trade Marks?