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13 December 2010
As the 2012 Olympic Games approach, many UK companies may be thinking about marketing and the leverage to be gained from the surrounding publicity and excitement, especially as the government has promoted the Olympics as being good for UK businesses. However, any such thoughts must take account of the legislation in place to protect both the games and their related words or symbols. Such legislation is designed to prevent companies that are not part of the official sponsor programmes from associating themselves with the Olympics.
Companies must now take into account the Olympics, Paralympics and London Olympics Association Rights (Infringement Proceedings) Regulations 2010, which came into force on November 8 2010. The regulations set out various remedies available to the organisers of the London games in the event of proscribed references to the Olympic Games.
The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games is responsible for preparing and staging the games in 2012. Its funding comes mainly from the private sector - a total of £2 billion is expected to be raised from sources including sponsorship and the sale of merchandise. The organising committee is tasked with preventing unauthorised association with, or use of, the 2012 brands. Its website describes the 2012 brands as being "vital to the funding of the games" and as the games' "most valuable asset". The organising committee is already busy policing infringements of rights granted to it under the two acts set out below.
Logos, symbols and mottos of the games are protected by a combination of hard-hitting legislation, registered trademarks, copyright, registered Community designs and common law. The key pieces of legislation preventing unauthorised association with the 2012 games are:
The new powers are wide ranging and reflect the rights available under the Olympic Association Right (Infringement Proceedings) Regulations 1995 relating to infringement of the Olympic association right.
They provide that:
The orders may be made by the High Court in England and Wales, the High Court in Northern Ireland and the Court of Session in Scotland.
The protection given to the 2012 games is wide ranging and the organising committee has clearly set out its view of how broadly it considers its powers to extend. This has led to the games being referred to in some marketing circles as 'the event that dare not speak its name'. Among the many examples in the available guidance, the organising committee suggests that a hotel offering an 'Olympic Games package' would be viewed as offering a Games-themed promotion and would be likely to be in breach of the legislation. Therefore, companies are advised to tread carefully when referring to the games in material or on goods that they produce, as any association with the games could spell trouble.
For further information on this topic please contact Oliver Bray or Lisa-Jayne Pickford at Reynolds Porter Chamberlain LLP by telephone (+44 20 3060 6000), fax (+44 20 3060 7000) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com).
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