How the Olympic Committees protect their trademark rings



The International Olympic committee is known to be particularly aggressive when it comes down to  enforcing  the trademark rights of their “Olympic properties”. Both traditional as well as specifically designed methods are used by the IOC (International Olympic Committee) and the USOC (United States Olympic Committee) to maintain their power of monopoly in the marketplace.


The USOC, founded by the Ted Stevens Olympic & Amateur Sports Act, is particularly aggressive in its trademark enforcement methods when combatting a specific type of threat. This threat is ambush marketing, defined by  Business dictionary.com as “a marketing technique in which advertisers work to connect their product with a particular event in the minds of potential customers, without having to pay sponsorship expenses for the event.” This type of marketing reduces sponsorship value and since according to IPWatchdog some of the top Olympics sponsors pay around 200 million dollars per games to licence their trademarks, a great deal of money for an event that only lasts for 2 weeks, therefore the Olympic Committee has to be extremely vigilant in protecting their intellectual property and its value.


The Olympic Committee has registered trademarks for their intellectual property all over the world and therefore traditional anti-infringement deterrents such as cease-and-desist letters are usually effective on  individuals and small businesses. This type of action saves time and money that could have been spent unnecessarily in filing a lawsuit against the infringing company and is the key to the committees success in maintaining their monopoly.
By the year 2000, all host countries had put forward legislation to protect the  Olympic properties as trademarks as requested by the IOC to reduce the likelihood of this type of infringement.


Another way that the USOC attempts to protect their trademarks is through Olympic Committee’s Rule 40. This rule forbids sponsors of athletes who are not sponsors of the games from mentioning their athletes in relation to the games on social media and bans people who are not sponsors from using pictures of Olympic athletes and referencing them to the games.
However, this rule was recently updated by the IOC and will now permit companies to advertise their sponsored athletes as long as the adverts are not in relation to the games.

During the 2016 Olympics and Paralympics, the IOC were particularly vigilant in the protection of their marks, challenging any unauthorised user of their images, brands or even any unauthorised source posting information about the games.



By using traditional trademark enforcement methods as well as their own  legislation, the IOC and the USOC have been successful in maintaining their monopoly in their chosen market. Like the IOC, your company would also benefit from owning a trademark as it would protect your brand and allow you to enforce your trademark rights over other companies that may infringe upon your mark.


For advice and more information on searching, acquiring, registering and enforcing Trademarks please visit our website, http://www.lipex.com.
Our unique database of trademarks for sale or license could save you time and help protect your brand.

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