Watch Out for the Rings! Advertising and the Olympics

Gold, silver, and bronze medals. Ccahill

Thinking of taking advantage of the Olympic games to benefit your business? Know the rules!

For the second time in less than a year, the Olympic games are upon us and athletes from around the world have gathered to compete.  The Games are an attractive target for advertising—but advertisers beware: Olympic and Paralympic marks or marks that resemble Olympic and Paralympic marks cannot be freely used by businesses.  These marks are granted special protections under the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Marks Act and the Canadian Trademarks Act.

The Olympic and Paralympic Marks Act prohibits the use of Olympic and Paralympic marks, and marks that are likely to be mistaken for Olympic and Paralympic marks, in connection with a business.  Similarly, under the Trademarks Act, such marks are not registrable as trademarks.  Only entities officially associated with the Olympics and Paralympics can use or register these marks (for example, the Canadian Olympic Committee, the Canadian Paralympic Committee, and any other organization in an official relationship with these committees or the International Olympic Committee).  Olympic and Paralympic marks include both word marks (e.g.,  asOlympics” or “Team Canada”) and design marks (e.g., the Olympic rings).

Businesses must be very cautious with advertising in relation to the Olympics and Paralympics. Olympic and Paralympic marks, or marks resembling Olympic and Paralympic marks, should never be used by businesses unless official rights and permissions have been granted. 

If you have any questions about trademarks or pursuing official relationships with the Olympics or Paralympics, please contact our experts at Brion Raffoul LLP.

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