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Tuesday, 9 August 2005

OH FOR A GOOD AMBUSH!


The IPKat is still seething over the news that, having secured the Olympic Games for 2012, the UK government is preparing a law that will prevent any business making reference to the 2012 Olympics in its promotions, unless it is an official sponsor. The protection against so-called ambush marketing is allegedly being required by the International Olympic Committee. The London Olympics Bill sets up the Olympic Delivery Authority to co-ordinate and ensure the delivery of the venues and infrastructure necessary to host the Games and grants creates specific powers to enable the Greater London Authority to prepare for and stage the Games.

According to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, it would also "meet the requirements of the International Olympic Committee to effectively reduce ambush marketing, eliminate street vending and control advertising during Games time". Ambush marketing occurs when one brand pays to sponsor an event and a rival brand attempts to associate itself with the event without being an official sponsor, an activity which is usually done without breaking any laws.

Sections 17 to 22 of the Bill, which deal with controls on advertising, are really quite scary. So too are sections 23 to 29, which deal with street trading. Read these and ask yourself if you're happy with it.

The IPKat's point is this: if ambush marketing fails to infringe the battery of IP rights that protect businesses against infringement of their trade marks, copyrights, designs, trade dress and against unfair competition and so on, why should it be banned at all? And, if it's inherently wrong or counter-competitive, why should it only be banned for the Olympics but permissible where the Bank of Blarney is sponsoring the Egg and Spoon Race at the Blarney High School Sports Day?

Merpel agrees: the Olympics have become the world's biggest greed-fest and they stink of corruption, from bribe-ridden officials to drug-ridden competitors. Why should we tolerate this greed any more? And, most importantly, why should spectators be bored to death by the same few advertisers' names and logos being remorselessly repeated before them?

32 comments:

Guy said...

London 2012 was registered as a UK trade mark over a year ago; optimism. The IOC applied to register London 2012, Paris 2012, etc. even earlier as if you back all the horses in a race you are sure to back a winner. The Olympic sign is a protected mark. Why do we need new legislation?

John H said...

I don't see what you're worried about. The first words in the bill as published are Tessa Jowell's assurance that "In my view the provisions of the London Olympics Bill are compatible with the Convention rights" under the Human Rights Act 1998. What more reassurance could we want? :-/

Interested to read s.17(4):

(4) The regulations may apply in respect of advertising of any kind including, in
particular—
(a) advertising of a non-commercial nature, and
(b) announcements or notices of any kind.


Which will presumbably catch churches using the Olympics as an opportunity for evangelistic campaigns. So we can look forward to disputes about religious freedom issues, as well as all the other problems this legislation will cause.

Jeremy said...

Thanks, Guy and John H. There really is a problem here and the "victims" include not just consumers but also fairly substantial trading companies. I'd like to know what WIPO's position on ambush marketing is; they don't seem to have identified it as a big problem, do they? And WTO should be all in favour of it ...

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