Olympics and the Trade-Mark Police

In China, the birthplace of countless knock-offs and counterfeits, the task of policing Olympic marks must be daunting indeed.  The trade-marks police must strive to be faster, higher, stronger than the offenders.  French retailer Carrefour was recently rebuked for the use of Olympic emblems in its Nanjing retail location.  Hanging Olympic banners and propping up Olympic mascots in-store is forbidden without paying the appropriate sponsorship fees under Olympic license agreements.  Another story from China illustrates that this isn’t just a matter of preventing unauthorized use of the Olympic rings, but also one of banning the display of any unauthorized logo of any company. Nike’s swooshes were covered up (this was regular advertising appearing in a Beijing pedestrian underpass) since Nike is not an official sponsor. 

This isn’t always a hi-tech affair – inside the stadium, the brand cops will use duct tape to mask any renegade brand that might be picked up by the cameras. If a reporter brings an Apple laptop, they’ll cover up the logo while its in the stadium to avoid the perception that Apple is getting free Olympic advertising.    

As the 2008 Olympics draw to a close, it’s clear that the Chinese experience is a preview of what we can expect to see in Vancouver and Whistler in 2010 when the enforcement of the Olympic and Paralympic Marks Act will be in full swing.  We’ll review Olympic advertising guidelines in 2010.

Related Reading: http://www.ipblog.ca/?p=115


Calgary – 09:30 MST

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