A warning for those thinking of cashing in on the London Olympics and Queen’s Jubilee

Has there ever been a better summer to be British? First, the Jubilee celebrations and then London welcomes the world as the Olympic Games host. With such celebrations going on, it is only natural for everyone to want to join in whilst also seeking to turn a profit. But is it ok to include a reference on your products?

The simple answer is – no. Doing so may land you in hot water as there is specific legislation in place to protect various words, terms and logos that are associated with both the Olympic Games and the Queen’s Jubilee. Below are a list of the “do not’s” to try and help you avoid being stung.

2012 Olympic Games

The UK has in place two pieces of legislation which protects a number of words and logos associated with the Olympics.

Firstly, the Olympic Symbol etc. (Protection) Act 1995 protects the Olympic motto “Citus, Altius, Fortius”, the Olympic Symbol of five interlocking rings and the words “Olympic(s)”, “Olympian(s)” and “Olympiad(s)”.

Secondly, the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act 2006 extends the scope of protection given to the Olympic and Paralympic Games by making it an infringement of the “London Olympic Association Right” (LOAR) to do anything which is “likely to create in the public mind an association” with the London Olympics. The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games Limited (LOCOG) will investigate whether such an infringement has occurred and decide whether further action will need to be taken.

What not to do:

  • Avoid creating an association with the London Olympic Games by ensuring you do not use any of the protected words listed above or any combination of two (or more) words from Group 1 or one (or more) words from Group 1 & 2 below:

Group 1

a) Games

b) two thousand and twelve

c) 2012

d) twenty twelve

Group 2

a) gold

b) silver

c) bronze

d) London

e) medals

f) sponsor, and

g) summer.

  • Avoid using any of the protected symbols or images that could also create an association with the London Olympics.
  • Do not use or register a trade mark featuring any protected words or symbols.

LOCOG have very wide ranging powers and will be able to investigate any possible link with the  Olympic or Paralympic Games and their robust efforts to stop use have even reached the media, so it is best to be very careful to avoid any such links.

The Queen’s Jubilee 

As last year’s Royal wedding showed, there are opportunities to commercially exploit Royal occasions. It has been estimated that retail gain from last year’s Royal wedding was around £515.5 million, with a variety of products from plush to tat being produced, and even William and Kate Barbie dolls. Caution is needed however to avoid any infringement of the intellectual property rights surrounding the Royal Family.

What not to do:

  • Avoid using the Royal Arms (or Arms which are so similar as to deceive) as this is prohibited by s99 Trade Marks Act 1994.
  • Avoid using any Royal photographs and insignia without permission from the relevant member of the Royal Family. Although Prince Williams authorised the temporary relaxation of such restrictions for use on souvenirs commemorating his engagement and marriage last year, this has not been put in place for the Queen’s Jubilee.
  • Do not give any false indication that goods or services are of a kind supplied to or approved by any member of the Royal Family. This is a criminal offence and can lead to a potential penalty of two year’s imprisonment under s12, Trade Descriptions Act 1968.
  • Do not use any advertising that claims or implies that a particular product is endorsed by the Royal Family, or implies that it is affiliated to Royal events, when it is not. The UK Code of Non-Broadcast Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing urges for written permission to be obtained from the Royal Family.
  • Do not seek registration of any trade mark containing representations of the Royal Crown, Royal flags, representations or any member of the Royal Family or names of the Royal Family without the consent of the relevant member of the Royal Family.  Use of the word “royal” in trade marks for every day items which are sufficiently removed from association with the Royal Family or used in combination with another registrable word or words which do not imply Royal patronage will not usually require consent.

In summary, there are clearly opportunities to capitalise on the nation’s goodwill which will arise from this summer’s Olympic Games and Queen’s Jubilee, but companies need to consider intellectual property law issues to avoid a Great British summer hangover.

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