The 2018 PyeongChang Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games are currently underway, and among the many topics of interest surrounding the Games, the issue of ambush marketing has become a focus of discussion in South Korea.

Historically, South Korea has not specifically targeted ambush marketing in its laws, although some provisions of the Trademark Act and Copyright Act regulate certain activities typically associated with ambush marketing (eg, trademark infringement and protection of mascots through copyright). More recently, the 2018 PyeongChang Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games Act was enacted to prohibit the unauthorised use of Games-related symbols, Olympics logos and slogans, among others, but did not specifically address the issue of ambush marketing when initially introduced, leading to some uncertainty regarding whether such activities might be tolerated.

However, the government indicated its intention to regulate these activities by amending the 2018 PyeongChang Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games Act on December 30 2017 to add specific provisions concerning ambush marketing activities surrounding the Winter Games.

While the language of the amendment (codified in Article 25-3) is not particularly detailed, the following provisions have been added with respect to ambush marketing:

"Prevention of ambush marketing

Any person other than those entitled to use Games-related symbols by the PyeongChang Organising Committee for the 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (POCOG) shall not infringe another party's economic interests by the following, even if Games-related symbols(1) are not directly used:

  1. labelling or advertisement that misrepresents a certain company, business operator or its products and services as being related to the Games or POCOG by linking them with national team players, specific games or game facilities;
  2. labelling or advertisement that misrepresents a certain company, business operator or its products and services as being related to the Games or POCOG by using a registered trademark (limited to word marks);
  3. labelling or advertisement that misrepresents a certain company, business operator or its products and services as being related to the Games or POCOG by linking them with support for games or a national team;
  4. providing or undertaking to provide tickets for games or goods as giveaways which are sold for the POCOG's profit in order to sell the products and services of a certain company or business operator; and
  5. other acts causing misperception of a close relationship to the Games or POCOG by means of (i) to (iv) above."

This amendment will be effective until March 31 2019. No penalty clause is attached to this amendment; however, violations may give rise to claims for damages or compensation under the Civil Code.

For further information on this topic please contact Sin-Hyun Jin or Alexandra Bélec at Kim & Chang by telephone (+822 3703 1114) or email (sinhyun.jin@kimchang.com or abelec@kimchang.com). The Kim & Chang website can be accessed at www.kimchang.com.

Endnotes

(1) Games-related symbols mean any of the following symbols:

  • games-related insignia, mascots, torches, medals, testimonials, slogans, theme songs, pictograms, the flag of the Games, commemorative money, memorial stamps, public publications, posters, designs of uniforms and visual symbols, all of which are designated by the POCOG (look of the games);
  • various marks, designs, mottos, music and sculptures containing the symbols referred to in Subparagraph 1; and
  • those similar to the symbols referred to in Subparagraph 1.

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