Stephanie Whitchurch, an experienced litigation lawyer who recently joined the legal team at Tallents in Newark, explains potential Olympic pitfalls for business owners. The Olympic Games, the largest sporting event in the world is coming to the UK this summer, but stringent restrictions have been put in place to protect official Olympic sponsors’ brands and broadcasting rights, which will affect every business in the UK. Stephanie says:

“The International Olympics Committee (IOC) requires all bidding governments to commit to introducing additional bespoke legislation regarding the use of Olympic branding to secure and protect the Games’ sponsorship.

“As such our government passed the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act in 2006, which, when combined with the Olympic Symbol (Protection) Act 1995, offer a special level of protection above that given by usual copyright or contract law. A breach of these acts is not only classed as a civil grievance, but is also a criminal offence.

“For businesses who have not paid to be official Olympic sponsors, this means that they could be breaking the law by using certain words or phrases, or by implying they are associated with the Games in anyway.”

Stephanie continues:

“Businesses cannot use the word ‘Olympics’, the five-rings symbol or the Games’ mottoes. Additionally, certain expressions which include two of the following words: ‘Games, Two Thousand and Twelve, 2012 or Twenty-Twelve’, could also be considered a breach if they are combined with: ‘London, medals, sponsors, summer, gold, silver or bronze.

“Small businesses often rely on advertising creativity to give them an edge against larger corporate businesses, but by taking advantage of the excitement surrounding the games and referring to the Olympics in any of their marketing campaigns, small businesses could be unintentionally breaking the law.”

Says Stephanie,

“The rules are complex and stringent, but it is possible to tap into the national pride surrounding this event, you just need to ensure that your activity is legal. Before you commit to an expensive marketing campaign or a large print run, speak to an experienced solicitor and take their advice.”

Stephanie Whitchurch joined Tallents in April 2012 and has a wide range of litigation experience including: commercial disputes, civil disputes and employment law. She is handling all litigation matters for the firm following the retirement of partner Phillip Harding at the end of April 2012.
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