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Trademark Protection and the Olympics

Bring on the Olympics®, but be careful how you use their trademarked materials. More than ever the International Olympic Committee is threatening to enforce international trademark rules to protect their trademarks and avoid businesses from benefiting from their property.

Their trademarked property includes the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the London Organizing Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG).

It’s come a long way since we’ve been working with the Olympics in Salt Lake and Athens. Trademark protection was an issue but not like today.

Today’s games have even reached out and set guidelines for social media. The rules request social media users to “be dignified” with “no vulgar or obscene words or images”. Really? We all know what happens when you tell people not to do something – it often works in the opposite direction.

Seth Godin reported in his blog today on this topic and complained that they may have gone too far, especially on things like requiring the use of social media in the first person, i.e. not simulating the role of a journalist. That does seem like an overreach. Protecting the brand however, what’s wrong with that?

Anyone who works hard to develop a brand should be protected. Any business person should agree because we all have secret sauce that we wish to protect, and if we’ve gone through the trouble of protecting it, why not enforce it? It’s good business.

Social media rules on the other hand seem problematic. Yes the rules they are advocating apply to all trademarks. Will people obey? Trademark owners may all benefit from this because more people will learn the law and perhaps use trademarks generally in a more legal way. Let’s see how it goes in London.  Let the games begin.

About Doug Bruhnke

Growth Nation is a global full-service marketing and business growth firm that creates more leads, stronger brands and higher revenue for clients in technology, manufacturing, healthcare and professional services. Our growth process has created over $1 billion of new revenue.

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