The Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang, South Korea, have just started. For two weeks athletes around the world will do their very best to represent their countries.
But what about intellectual property at the games? The Olympic rings are well-known to almost everyone on this planet, i.e. the five interlocked rings with colours in blue, yellow, black, green and red on a white field. The five rings are said to represent the union of the ‘five continents’ of the world and the meeting of athletes from across the world at the Olympic Games.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is very protective of this symbol, and in many jurisdictions they have the right to any interlocking of five rings, although there are some national exceptions.
For the 2018 Winterolympics in PyeongChang, the IOC has naturally protected the wordmark PYEONGCHANG 2018 as well as the figurative mark comprising the interlocking rings.
The arranging Korean Olympic committee is allowed to create and protect their own trademarks, which has been done, for instance for the official symbol for the games (with the same colours as the Olympic rings), and the two mascots Soohorang and Bandabi, used for the Winter Olympics and Paralympics respectively. The mascots are used to represent the Olympics games everywhere.
Interestingly enough, the rights to the combination of the PyeongChang official symbol and the Olympic rings as well the colour scheme, is owned by the IOC, once again demonstrating their protective instincts.