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‘Steer clear of Olympics’ when promoting business services

With the Rio 2016 games now officially started, businesses hoping to take advantage of the buzz the event will create are being warned over using the Olympic branding.

Use of the various Olympic logos, images and mottos are heavily guarded by the law, including trade mark registrations and the Olympic Symbol etc. (Protection) Act 1995. Official sponsors pay highly for the right to be associated with the Games.

Phil Brown, senior associate solicitor in the Commercial team and trademark expert at North West law firm Napthens, warns that businesses should be careful how they refer to the Olympics in promotional material or adverts. They should not use:

  • The Olympic Rings symbol
  • The name ‘RIO 2016’ and its emblems and mascots
  • ‘Team GB’ and the Team GB logo
  • The words ‘Olympic,’ ‘Olympian’ and similar derivatives
  • Images and footage from the games
  • The Olympic motto: ‘Faster, higher, stronger.’

Phil said: “For London 2012, legislation was passed which prevented the creation of any association with the Games, regardless of the words or imagery used.

“This prevented companies from combining images of London alongside, for instance, sporting images and pictures of medals. Brazil has also been introducing its own laws in this respect.

“Other rules under the Olympic Charter prevent the use of images or names of athletes unless a company has been sponsoring them for some time. Breaking this rule can even result in an athlete themselves being penalised.

“For most businesses, the advice has to be to avoid any direct association, and to take care when posting on social media about the Games in such a way as to be seen to be promoting your own products.”