Don’t meddle with the medals
- Issue 2
Richard Kerry, partner and dispute resolution specialist at Hatchers Solicitors warns local businesses that the desire to become associated with the Olympics could cause businesses to breach the London Olympic Games Act 2006
With the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games in London on July 27, many businesses will seek to market their products and services by referring to the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Outside London, the incentive to do this may be no greater than in Shropshire, where, as any good Salopian knows, Much Wenlock was the birthplace of the modern Olympic Games.
The purpose of the Act is to protect official sponsors who are paying many millions of pounds to be associated with the 2012 Games. Businesses which are not official sponsors must therefore be careful not to create an association with the Games. This will be a question of fact in each case, but guidance has been provided by the creation of two lists which a court may take into account when considering whether the Act has been breached [see panel].
If a word from List 1 is used in a business context together with another word from List 1 or any List 2 words, it is likely to infringe and therefore breach the Act. Any combination of words or images that creates the likelihood of consumers associating the product with the Games will be infringing the Act.
For example, a car dealership’s advertisement which stated “Celebrate Summer 2012 with our Gold Medal deals” will infringe the Act if used without the authorisation of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG).
LOCOG is taking this approach to emphasise the importance of sponsorship to the Games’ funding and the issue of protecting sponsors’ brands. The Act may result in many businesses not being able to benefit from the Games at all.
Although income will be generated for the Games through big business sponsorship, the economy as a whole may lose revenue as a result of lost advertising and merchandising opportunities. Many UK businesses will almost certainly ignore or even flout the legislation. Many will be extremely creative in their attempts to outwit the severe restrictions – although this may result in them breaking the law.