As the plans for 2012 progress, action is being taken to control advertising and trading in relation to the Games.
Last year saw the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act come into force and this created the London Olympics Association Right (LOAR). The reason for the introduction of this new right is to protect official sponsors from so-called ambush marketing. A recent example of this practice took place during the 2006 World Cup in Germany when Dutch brewer Bavaria handed out bright orange lederhosen-style trousers bearing the Bavaria logo to Holland supporters. The official sponsor Budweiser objected and the fans were required to remove their trousers before entering the ground. The consequent publicity was just what Bavaria wanted.
The LOAR prevents businesses from unfairly associating themselves with the Olympics. The new right prohibits the use of any visual or verbal representation of any kind in a manner likely to suggest to the public that there is an association between the Olympics and the goods and services of that business.
A business will be allowed to make statements in accordance with “honest commercial practices” provided it does not make use of a representation relating to the Olympics in a context in which the Olympics is substantially irrelevant. When the Act was originally drafted there was a presumption that the use of certain expressions would infringe the LOAR. This presumption has now been dropped but certain words and combinations of words should be used with caution – including “Games” or “2012”, in conjunction with any of the following: “gold”, “bronze”, “London”, “medals”, “sponsor” and “summer” – for example, “Summer Games”.
If you want to be associated with the Olympics it would be prudent to get approval from the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games (“LOCOG”). Interestingly, LOCOG will be keeping a public register on the internet of people to whom they have granted authorisations. This could be a way to keep an eye on what your competitors are up to with regard to the Olympics.