Olympic rings usage; Boston Marathon bomber trial date set; IOC satisfied with Sochi thus far

Correction from last post: the Millrose Games were not held at Madison Square Garden – they were at the Armory.

When Can I Use the Olympic Rings?

Sochi Olympics is halfway complete. Enough has happened so far that fans, corporations, companies and the like may feel so inclined to start brandishing the Olympic rings, or use a famous athlete’s likeness on t-shirts, as slogans, in commercials, etc. It is important to remember that the Olympic rings, the Olympic flame, and “words such as ‘Olypmic,’ ‘Olympiad,’ and ‘Paralympic'” are not simply words or symbols – they are registered trademarks. The global organizing body has rights to these words and symbols that carry legal consequences when misused, and it is up to the relevant national committee to ensure that its respective country complies with its appropriate use. In fact, for a nation to even host the Olympics, they must “pass statutes protecting the trademarks.” Ask Kelly Maser, an intellectual property attorney working for the U.S. Olympic Committee out of Colorado Springs. Her job is to “[field] the steady stream of requests from those seeking to use the sacred word” so that people do not incur legal action for its misuse. The article provides five common misuses of the Olympic trademark lawyers seek.

  1. If you don’t have permission, you cannot use the Olympic trademark for profit. It is okay to discuss the Olympics (athletes, medals, etc.) using the word, so long as it is not being used for a commercial purpose. Once the Olympics are being used for profit, then a trademark infringement issue occurs, and legal action is likely.
  2. You cannot mislead individuals by using the likeness of the Olympic trademark. Avoid falling into the trap The North Face fell into when it sold apparel that was made to look like it came from the Olympics in Vancouver. The IOC legal team will not enact a legal case against an individual who makes a t-shirt about the Olympics – as long as the t-shirt is not being introduced into the marketplace.
  3. Unauthorized use of the Olympic trademark, whether intentional or not, can incur legal consequences. IOC lawyers look for unauthorized uses of Olympic trademarks, whether it is unintentional or not. Many companies desire to be part of the Games because it raises revenue, but even unintentional uses of the Olympic trademark incur legal consequences. While intent is a factor to consider in a trademark infringement case, merely lacking the intent to infringe is not always an effective defense.
  4. Trademarks protect contractual agreements with sponsors. Not only do lawyers work around the clock to protect the use of the Olympic trademarks, but they work to protect sponsors as well. James Bikoff, a trademark attorney and legal adviser to the IOC, says that the use of a “symbol or a name or something simple to associate with the Games” is enough to affect a sponsor’s exclusive contract. Currently, there are 10 exclusive world-wide sponsors of the Olympic Games.
  5. Selling counterfeit Olympic trademark memorabilia online is just as stupid as selling it on the street – if not more. Going online and selling counterfeit, unofficial Olympic memorabilia is just as bad, if not worse than selling it on the street. The IOC realizes that the internet continues to grow, including the counterfeit market. In reaction to this, the IOC created a unit whose main purpose is to patrol the internet, looking for potential trademark infringement.

In short, the point is that unless you use Olympic “buzzwords” for commercial profit, it is likely trademark infringement is not your concern.

Tsarnaev To Stand Trial in Early November

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the Boston Marathon bombing suspect, will stand trial before U.S. District Judge George O’Toole beginning November 3, 2014. Tsarnaev pled not guilty to his alleged scheme of placing “two pressure cooker bombs at the finish line” of the Boston Marathon. Allegations against him illustrate that he and his brother, Tamerian (who died in a shootout with police three days after the bombing) then shot a campus police officer (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), stole an SUV, took a hostage, and then forced the hostage “to withdraw $800 from an ATM machine” in an attempt to flee to New York City.

Tsarnaev faces over 30 federal charges stemming from the April 15 bombings that led to three deaths and over 260 individuals injured. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

Defense attorney Judith Clarke felt that the November 3 trial date was too early, and is seeking to delay the trial date. Her argument was that “there was no way her team could review evidence and line up expert witnesses in such a short time frame.” Over 2,000 items in the case may have evidentiary value – evidence the FBI is still analyzing, and evidence the defense is unsure when they will receive. Instead, she seeks a September 2015 trial date. Considering that the FBI has a good portion of the relevant evidence, Clarke will likely have a good argument in the delay of the trial date. How far her request to extend is a different story; September 2015 seems a bit too far. It will depend on the facts and circumstances of the case, as well as whether the judge will allow it.

O’Toole will hold a hearing on March 12 to determine motions on the review of evidence. On June 18, a status conference with the parties will result in a finalization of proper venue.

Halfway Through the Olympics, and the IOC is “Delighted”

The preliminary fears of “human rights abuse” and whether Sochi 2014 would be safe, as well as the problems with “organisation and atmosphere” seemed to dissolve once the Winter Games began. IOC executive director Gilbert Felli described the Games thus far as “better than expected.” Another shocking discovery was the enthusiasm of the Russian crowd when teams other than Russia garnered the Olympic Gold Medal. Felli expressed his surprise when he attended a slopestyle event, saying “the medals were going to be won by the Americans, and you could see the Russians applauding and the kids there and the yelling and everything.” Much of the focus and discussion remains on the sports in Sochi, which is desired. (However, I must point out that Sochi is substantially warmer there than it is in most parts of the United States…) Thus far, all is well. Personally, though, I hope that Sochi continues to remain vigilant throughout the Games. The moment when someone is caught off guard is when catastrophe occurs. Hopefully, though, the Games continue to go smoothly.

Kenya’s cheating in sports is still a big topic of discussion, and this article goes into a little more detail on how its cheating was discovered. In a similar vein, letsrun.com put up the results of their world record doping poll. It’s not scientific by any means, and is limited to those who chose to respond to the survey (anyone who frequented the website). It’s more of a passing interest than anything else, and perhaps you may enjoy it.

Radford University is in jeopardy of losing its Women’s Diving and Swimming, Field Hockey and Men’s Track and Field Teams. A petition was started by Nathan Turner to try to overturn it. It’d help them out if you would sign the petition – which takes about one minute, depending on how fast you can type.

Finally, this was a momentous weekend for track and field: Renauld Lavillenie broke Sergey Bubka’s world record in the pole vault (while Bubka was watching!), Ethiopia’s Genzebe Dibaba broke her third world record, this time in the 3,000 meter run, and famed distance runner Alan Webb finished his stalwart career by running his last track and field race at the Millrose Games.


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