News & Insights

Is your advertising campaign fit for the summer games?

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Authored by: Amy Chung

Did you know?

The Olympic Games started in Ancient Greece nearly 3,000 years ago and is now the world’s greatest sporting competition. According to a study by the Centre for Law and Economics of Sport commissioned by the organising committee, the Paris 2024 Olympic Games are expected to generate up to €11.5bn in economic gain for the Paris region. Many businesses pay substantial sums to be official sponsors of the event and, since the Olympics bring major commercial opportunities, it is tempting for even non-affiliated businesses to capitalise on public interest in the games.

Why does this matter to you?

It is important to be aware that there are specific restrictions and requirements for brands conducting advertising campaigns and congratulatory advertising for, or relating to, the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Words such as “Olympic”, “Olympic Games”, “Olympiad”, “Paralympic” and “Paralympic Games” in English (and other languages), the Olympic/Paralympic symbols, trade marks, mottos, emblems, and mascots, are protected under specific laws. Team-related intellectual property including team names, logos, and kit designs are also protected. In addition, athletes themselves may have rights protecting their name, likeness, image, trade mark and reputation.

The Olympic Committee Rules also provides for a “blackout period” during the Games (18 July 2024 to 13 August 2024 for the Paris Games), which limits the ability of athletes to allow their personal, non-Olympic, sponsors to market their association with the athlete during the blackout period. It may be permitted to use “generic” advertising which does not refer to the Games’ protected words or symbols, or allude to the Games, or the athlete’s performance at the Games. However, this may be subject to certain conditions, and prior notification to the International Olympic Committee or the relevant National Olympic Committee.

Generally, businesses should ensure that their advertising materials and promotional activities do not violate applicable laws including infringement of trade mark or copyright, passing-off/false endorsement, false trade description, misleading omissions, or trade promotion competition rules.

In particular, for those brands that are not official sponsors of the Games, but who may be planning to launch advertising campaigns or commercial promotional activsities relating to the Games or participating athletes, it is important to ensure that the advertising is conducted in a generic manner, without (1) using any of the Olympic/Paralympic Games-related intellectual property, and/or (2) creating any reference, representation or impression to mislead people to believe that there may be any connection between the advertised brand and the Games or a particular team.

Tickets for events will usually also have terms and conditions to prevent the use of tickets for unauthorised promotions. Therefore, businesses should also check whether there are any restrictive terms and conditions (e.g., prohibition on ticket transfer, use of ticket for commercial purposes, or for trade promotion activities such as lucky draws). In any case, the conduct of trade promotion activities should remain compliant with applicable trade promotion competition licence regimes.

Want to know more?

Deacons has a team of experienced advertising and marketing lawyers. Please contact us if you have any questions.

Key Contacts

Amy Chung

Partner | Intellectual Property

Email or call +852 2825 9671

Related Services and Sectors:

Intellectual Property, Media and Entertainment

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