According to the organisers of London 2012, "the unauthorised use of any of the items that comprise the Olympic Marks, or any other marks or logos that are confusingly similar to, or likely to be mistaken for, the Olympic Marks is strictly prohibited. It is unlawful to post the Olympic logo, the London 2012 logo or the mark ‘London 2012’ on websites, signage, written materials or merchandise."
It is also unlawful "to falsely represent any association, affiliation, endorsement, sponsorship or similar relationship with London 2012, the BOA, Team GB, the IOC, the 2012 Games or the Olympic Movement."
But the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising claims such defensiveness – and the Olympic bill that will enshrine it in law – is so extreme that it could lead to pubs being prosecuted for using chalkboards to promote TV coverage of the Games.
London 2012 says it is merely protecting the commercial rights to the Games and that nearer the time it will reveal ways in which businesses from pubs to bike companies can get involved in the build-up to the London Games.
When London won the city bid it had to sign a host city contract with the International Olympic Committee. This contracts stipulates strict measures to prevent the sort of ambush marketing that happened at the Atlanta Olympics.
Poster sites around London have already been booked for the Olympics to prevent non-sponsors from jumping on the bandwaggon with ‘cheap’ advertising near to venues.
Protected Olympic marks include the words ‘Olympic’, ‘Olympiad’ and ‘Olympian’. The Olympic rings are also protected but so are the two words ‘Team GB.’
The Olympic bill will also make it illegal to use words like ‘games’, ‘medals’, ‘gold’, ‘2012’, or ‘summer’ in marketing materials.
London 2012’s website states:
"Every day, London 2012 receives requests from corporations, small businesses, community groups and individuals, all of them asking the same thing: How can we support the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games in 2012? London 2012 greatly appreciates the ongoing support we have continued to receive. Numerous initiatives are being developed and will be announced in the coming months. In the meantime, your support can begin by understanding and respecting the use of the Olympic Marks."
Buying the right to use of the words and logos is big business:
"British and international organisations are prepared to make significant financial investments to become an official sponsor of the 2012 Games and acquire the exclusive right to use the Olympic Marks in their promotional campaigns," said London 2012.
An estimated 40 percent of London 2012’s operating budget will come from sponsorship deals.
"Organisations participating in the 2012 Games marketing programme must be confident they are investing in something that is not available for free," said London 2012.
Fail to comply and you risk court orders for the seizure of unauthorised merchandise and the payment of damages.