At Olympics, protecting your IP assets should be an event

By Pankaj Ladhar of Manos • Alwine P.L.

Every two years, people get swept up in the drama, patriotic fervor and spectacle of the Olympics. This year, the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London have been no exception. Who can forget McKayla Maroney’s gold medal-clinching vault, or the Michael Phelps-Ryan Lochte rivalry? These are the moments Miami fans will remember for years.

Naturally, companies are eager to cash in on the good feelings the Olympics generate. The International Olympic Committee is very aware of this and only lets official sponsors, like Coca-Cola and Adidas, use the term “Olympics” or the interlocking ring symbol in their advertising and marketing — and charges them a pretty penny for the privilege, of course.
Other companies are not going to give up that easily, but then again, they don’t want to risk trademark or copyright infringement, either. This is why you hear or see very carefully worded advertisements that use imagery or connotations to evoke the Olympics without actually saying “Olympics.”

For example, online cosmetics retailer recently sent out an email referring to certain items as “world class” or “medal winning.” Those images call to mind standing on a podium to receive a medal, but do not actually take that final step of explicitly referring to the Olympics.

That the International Olympic Committee has to keep tabs on such…inventive marketing is a good example of how the holders of intellectual property assets must almost always been vigilant about protecting their marks. If you are interested in learning more about this area of law, feel free to visit the Intellectual Property page of our website.

Source: NPR, “Retailers Go For Gold By Evoking Olympic Games,” Wendy Kaufman, Aug. 9, 2012