Welcome to the August newsletter. In this issue we look at the controversy surrounding the Olympics and the absurd Brexit trademark applications post referendum.
The 2016 Rio Olympics has already had a shaky start, banning athletes, unfinished accommodation, and now there is a hashtag trademark controversy. The Olympic trademark is protected by a statute over and above any normal trademark and covers all elements of the brand including mottos, the rings and the Olympic Flame. The organisers of the Rio Olympics and the U.S Olympic Committee (USOC) added some additional marks in 2013 - the hashtags #rio2016 and #teamUSA.
In a move to protect the official sponsors such as Coca Cola, Visa, Samsung etc, the USOC legal team have taken what might be seen a quite firm legal tactics to prevent the hashtags being used by commercial entities.
Any company using the hashtags has been contacted via the legal team stating they may not post about the Trials or Games on their social media accounts using the hashtags – which apparently includes a ban on retweeting official content.
The USOC would certainly have a case if the entity was claiming to be a sponsor of the 2016 Olympics, but simply supporting the games on social media is less clear-cut - although that doesn’t seem to have stopped their legal teams. Most hard hit are the sponsors of the individual Olympians, who have been reprimanded for posting pictures of their sponsored athlete at the trials - seriously limiting the opportunities to leverage the sponsorship.
It will be interesting to see how the legal teams deal with the onslaught of social media posts over the next month.
Since the EU referendum on the 23rd June, there has been a flurry of applications to the UK and EU Registry to register Brexit inspired ideas.
One of our favourites is ‘Brexit Law’ a classic example of a non-allowable trademark. International law firm Allen & Overy have applied both in the UK Registry (3172337) and in the EU Registry 15602691). Their application (currently in examination status) is to provide Brexit legal services to companies on the impact of Brexit on oversea supplier agreements. While a useful service it will be interesting to see how the application progresses.
Other more absurd applications (that have already been published) included:
● Brexit Blue cheese (3172684) filed by cheese connoisseurs Anthony Rowcliffe
● English Brexit Tea (3171400) filed by German company Leisure Fun & Toys GmbH of Wedel, covers the use of the name in tea lights, teapots, tea and even biscuits
● Brexit The Musical (3174066) has been registered by Christopher Bryant which may well be worth going to see
Have a good month and do get in touch with any trademark, copyright or patent queries.
You can contact us on +44(0)1494 422626.