With six months left until the start of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games, it seems appropriate to highlight another story involving Olympic trademarks. The Vancouver Organizing Committee (VANOC) is not the only Olympic Committee vigilantly monitoring the use of Olympics related trade-marks. A recent bulletin chronicles the steps taken by the US Olympic Committee to protect the word OLYMPIC in the US, including obtaining an injunction against the use by Olympic Supply, Inc. of Maryland of the tradename “Olympic News”.
The bulletin summarizes that, in the US, specific legislation prevents non-licensed use of the word OLYMPIC unless: (1) there was use with the same goods and services prior to September 21, 1950, or (2) it is obvious that the word refers to the Olympic geographic area named prior to February 6, 1998 and the word relates to goods or services that are marketed in the Olympic area and are not substantially marketed outside of that region.
In Canada, though VANOC has different enforcement tools at its disposal to prevent unauthorized persons from marketing their wares and services in association with the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, the results may be largely the same. For example, the Olympic and Paralympic Marks Act (which we discussed in a previous post) prohibits any person from adopting or using in connection with a business, as a trademark or otherwise, an Olympic or Paralympic mark or a mark that resembles an Olympic or Paralympic mark. Lists of prohibited marks (including, of course, OLYMPIC) are set out in Schedules 1 and 2 of the Act.
The Act also prohibits anyone from promoting or otherwise directing public attention to a business in such manner as to lead the public into believing that there is a connection with the Canadian Olympic Committee or Canadian Paralympic Committee. Perhaps most notably, this Act permits VANOC to obtain an interim injunction against alleged infringers without proof of irreparable harm, which is a significant and unprecedented advantage. Read more