Orwellian Olympics
August 16, 2005 10:08 PM   Subscribe

Not letting people take in the wrong soft drink. Making a band change its name. 'The new bill will make it illegal to combine words like "games", "medals", "gold", "2012", "sponsor" or "summer" in any form of advertising.' I'm kind of starting to hate the olympics.
posted by Tlogmer (47 comments total)
We're all going on a "seasonal climactic shift to warmer temperatures extending from the s____r solstice to the autmnal equinox" Holiday...
No more working for a week or two
fun and laughter on our "seasonal climactic shift to warmer temperatures extending from the s____r solstice to the autmnal equinox" Holiday
No more worries for me or you.
Except for the IOC intellectual property lawyers
with a "Cease and Desist" letter threat-ening to sue.

posted by JGreyNemo at 10:21 PM on August 16, 2005

But in a rare gesture of goodwill, the committee allowed continued use of the word "steroid".
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 10:53 PM on August 16, 2005

Jesus, there's protecting your trademarks and then there is the olympic committee. They are insane, and I can't believe they require special laws to protect their stupid generic marks.

I still remember when the US Postal Service came to an odd agreement with the band The Postal Service to the effect that you could buy their CD at your local post office.
posted by mathowie at 10:56 PM on August 16, 2005

Egads, these Olympic nutjobs need to be stopped. They're on a frickin' rampage of drunken power. Seriously, send in the troops and wipe these monetary terrorists off the face of the earth.

I remember when it used to be about sports. And there won't be any baseball? Or softball?
grumble, grumble, grumble
posted by fenriq at 11:06 PM on August 16, 2005

In British Columbia, the Registrar of Companies refuses to allow non-profit organizations to use "2010" in their names.

And there's also Olympic Pizza in Vancouver...
posted by angrybeaver at 11:17 PM on August 16, 2005

Googling brings up an interesting treaty that protects the Olympic rings.
posted by angrybeaver at 11:19 PM on August 16, 2005

This is so damned sad. I remember when the Olympics were about grace and triumph and determination, and most of all, peace.

All get down on your knees for the almighty $currency.

posted by zerokey at 11:21 PM on August 16, 2005

When I was living in Seattle a few years back, I remember the city was trying real hard to get the Olympics.

One of the reasons the city backed off was that the IOC insisted that all business within a certain radius could not use the word "Olympic" in any way, shape or form.

Unfortunately, the Olympic Mountains fell within this area and the IOC was asking that names such as Olympic National Park be changed for the duration of the event.

In addition, there are a lot of business in the Puget Sound area that refer to the mountains, and the IOC wanted them to change their names permanently; e.g. Olympia Pizza, and Olympic Break & Muffler.
posted by Relay at 11:21 PM on August 16, 2005

C'mon, everybody! Let's organize the MetaLympics* and when they send a C&D, change it to MetaLimpics, 'cause they haven't reserved the word Limpic yet, have they?

*domain names Metalympic, Metalympics, Metalimpic and Metalympics still available in all TLDs

5. Profit!!!
posted by wendell at 11:22 PM on August 16, 2005

I was wondering if businesses on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington can use the "O-word" in their names. According to the International Trademark Association,
The word Olympic may be used, without sanction, to identify a business or goods or services if:
  1. such use is not combined with any of the Olympic trademarks
  2. it is evident from the circumstances that such use of the name "Olympic" refers to the naturally occurring mountains or geographical region of the same name, and that it does not refer to the Corporation or to any Olympic activity
  3. such business, goods or services are operated, sold and marketed in the state of Washington, west of the Cascade Mountain range, and marketing outside this area is not substantial
But how about Olympic Boulevard in Los Angeles?

On preview: that should be a/b/c, not 1/2/3. Oh well. And Relay posted, too.
posted by Guy Smiley at 11:23 PM on August 16, 2005

I dunno Guy ... that's just what I heard, humorously enough, from the guys at Olympic Pizza on 15th (my local pizza place), but then I heard it from other individuals later as well.

This was a while back, and maybe they changed it ... what did the IOC do with the Athens games? I'm sure there are a ton of Greek businesses effected.
posted by Relay at 11:28 PM on August 16, 2005

A friend of mine, based on a suggestion I made about logos in an online forum we both use a lot, came up with this design for a t-shirt we could sell here in Taiwan.
posted by Poagao at 12:28 AM on August 17, 2005

I'm kind of starting to hate the olympics.

Same here. Round about '92 it set in for me. Not sure if it was a case of getting old and jaded or if the Olympics really was becoming corrupt and overcommercialised.

I prefer grass roots sports now, with little or no corporate interests. eg. Touch rugby.

(Watch the Xtreme type games become the next Olympic games. Overpriced tickets. Big headed officials. Asshole competitors.)
posted by uncanny hengeman at 12:32 AM on August 17, 2005

Screw the Olympic idiots and their trademark. "Olympic" is a word with ancient meaning, apart from the games.
posted by Goofyy at 1:18 AM on August 17, 2005

This trend has been growing for years with the Olympics, and it's going to backfire eventually. Like it or not, the Olympics is not just a corporate event - it is a public event that stands for something. Or, at least, used to.

Remember the strict media guidelines for the last Olympics? I seem to remember restrictions being placed on even informal reporting of the games - threats that people would get in trouble for posting stuff on their weblogs for instance. The media coverage was very tightly controlled - non-"official" TV stations, for instance, were limited to showing only a few minutes of Olympics footage per day, and, if I remember correctly, a lot of that allowance was only for "news" about the Olympics, rather than reporting on actual events.

In the name of securing cash for official sponsors, they're essentially trying to force the Olympics to exist in a vacuum - in effect to actually reduce promotion and coverage of the games. How can that work, really? They're assuming that the Olympics are "so big" that people will switch TV the news report they watch or the newspaper they buy just to get the results. The fact is that people aren't actually that interested. If their favourite TV news is forced to pretend the Olympics isn't happening, then the viewer might happily forget the Olympics are happening as well, and before you know it the games will shift out of the public consciousness. How is that a positive for the corporate sponsors? At the end of the day, how much of a shit do you give if Coke is the "official carbonated cola-flavoured sugary water of the Olympic Games" and Pepsi isn't?

posted by Jimbob at 3:46 AM on August 17, 2005

I was under the impression that you couldn't trademark a word that had been in use for any period of time, and that a generic word trademark had a limited area of control. For example, Microsoft controls the word 'Windows' for operating systems but can't stop people using the word to describe bits of glass.

How the hell can they trademark the word 'olympic'?
posted by twine42 at 4:37 AM on August 17, 2005

twine42 wrote: "I was under the impression that you couldn't trademark a word that had been in use for any period of time ... How the hell can they trademark the word 'olympic'?"

You're generally correct, but in this case, the British Parliament can do anything it wants if it passes it as an Act. Parliament is sovereign (Cromwell, Glorious Revolution, etc.)

Similarly, the copyright for Peter Pan is perpetual and granted to the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children by means of Act of Parliament.
posted by alasdair at 4:58 AM on August 17, 2005

I was actually referring to the US trademark, but it counts for both.
posted by twine42 at 5:08 AM on August 17, 2005

This sort of thing makes me distinctly unpleased.

The arrogance of these people is beyond belief. They actually think they can legislate about which words can or can't be used by someone else. If this bill passes (and I seriously doubt it will) I hope, trust and assume that it will be widely and deliberately flouted everywhere.

The 2012 Olympic Golden Showers is now the name of my new band.
posted by Decani at 5:34 AM on August 17, 2005

On the other hand, it should juice up the thought processes for ways to tie advertizing in with the event surreptitiously. Although I dislike advertizing per se, I've always kind of admired the smart thinking and psychology behind it. Puns, visual hints, mock sporting contests etc etc
posted by peacay at 5:38 AM on August 17, 2005

And while I'm in the devil's advocate corner I might add that these admittedly restrictive laws mean that those who are official sponsors pay a LOT of money for direct association with everything olympic. If it wasn't this way, the fiscal burden for UK/London would be a LOT worse.
posted by peacay at 5:41 AM on August 17, 2005

those who are official sponsors pay a LOT of money for direct association with everything olympic

posted by sonofsamiam at 5:47 AM on August 17, 2005

Googling brings up an interesting treaty that protects the Olympic rings.

Hmmm - are there any attempts to compensate the original creators with any recovered damages?
posted by bibliowench at 6:14 AM on August 17, 2005

Very nice, Poagao!
posted by MrMoonPie at 6:17 AM on August 17, 2005

I think two things started to point the Olympics downhill:
1) 1980 "Miracle on Ice"
2) 1984 Los Angeles Olympics

These two events brought the Olympics into the American conciousness. And where Americans go, corporate weasels follow.
posted by Human Stain at 7:05 AM on August 17, 2005

Have you noticed that if you read the word Olympic over and over again, it starts to lose its meaning? Try it! Olympic Olympic Olympic Olympic Olympic Olympic Olympic...It's just a string of sounds, man. Wild...
posted by Lord Kinbote at 7:11 AM on August 17, 2005

That is awesome, poago.
posted by Kwantsar at 7:39 AM on August 17, 2005

Poagao. Sorry.
posted by Kwantsar at 7:40 AM on August 17, 2005

I wonder how they handled things in Greece last year - you know, Greece, home to Mount Olympus, the thing the games are named after? You probably can't walk ten feet around there without hitting an Olympic something-or-another.

In other news: I can see greedheads trying to get the laws passed. But jeez louise, howinhell do they GET PASSED?! Is this the ultimate form of bribery to get the olympic committee to choose your country as host?
posted by Billegible at 8:00 AM on August 17, 2005

I'm going to name my kid Olympics.
posted by obvious at 8:06 AM on August 17, 2005

Except for the IOC intellectual property lawyers

I propose a new sub-field mixing intellectual property and poverty law. I call it "intellectual poverty" law.

This will be the star precedent.
posted by dreamsign at 8:22 AM on August 17, 2005

Googling brings up an interesting treaty that protects the Olympic rings.

Interesting sidenote about that. It's any symbol involving "five interlocking rings", not the specific arrangement of five rings that constitutes the Olympics logo. The people who did the card game/RPG Legend of the Five Rings were actually sued over it - see, their logo looked like this. Sure, that's a pretty old symbol, from the earlier editions of Musashi's Book of Five Rings, and demonstratably predates the modern Olympics by some 300 years ... but that doesn't matter. It was face down the USOC in court, lose, and change the symbols, or just bite the bullet and change without a fight. So, change happened. And it sucked, 'cause that meant having to change the card backs, which meant problems for tournament play what with any deck using both old and new ones requiring sleeves ... very messy.
posted by kafziel at 8:28 AM on August 17, 2005

Just this week:
USOC Forces New Name for Ferret Competition
"After nine years of slippery, slinky competition, the Ferret Olympics is being forced to change its name — the U.S. Olympic Committee has threatened to sue. An estimated 75 ferrets will vie for medals at the Ferret Agility Trials on Sunday in events including the tube run and the paper bag escape....U.S. Olympic Committee spokesman Darryl Seibel said the committee's legal department on average asks about 50 groups per year to stop using the name Olympics."
posted by ericb at 8:56 AM on August 17, 2005

And then there's the case of the IOC suing the Gay Olympics and forcing the name change to the Gay Games.
posted by ericb at 8:58 AM on August 17, 2005

It appears that the enforcement of the Olympic name dates back to the start of the 20th. Century:
"As far back as 1910, Pierre de Coubertin protested the use of the name Juegos Olimpicos del Centenario (Centennial Olympic Games) for a competition in Buenos Aires organized by the sports authorities in Argentina. Coubertin was said to be infuriated by the matter and used the infraction to make an example to others that the matter would be treated seriously. The Argentine representative to the IOC was expelled from the IOC.

The issue shows up again in IOC minutes in 1913, when the IOC was informed that its American members had successfully protested the use of the title 'American Olympic Games' for a Chicago track meet.

That same year Japan, China and the Philippines established a regional games which were called the 'First Asian Olympic Games'. The name was changed to the Far East Championships for all subsequent editions.

In 1919 the IOC protested the use of the name 'Olympiade Catalan' for a competition in Barcelona. Jeux Catalan was substituted."
posted by ericb at 9:07 AM on August 17, 2005

What about the Special Olympics? Or would that be too low for them to go...

Seriously though. Fuck the Olympics. Who gives a shit? I haven't watched them since I was about 10, and no one I know watches them anymore. The only time I was marginally reinvolved in them is when McDonalds was running that stupid contest. With all the other sports out there to experience and watch, I can't understand why the hell anyone would sit there and watch this drivel. I guess some people do, though....
posted by Debaser626 at 9:40 AM on August 17, 2005

But how about Olympic Boulevard in Los Angeles?

That street was built along with the Olympic Stadium for the 1932 Olympics.
posted by linux at 10:03 AM on August 17, 2005

ericb, yesterday I tried half-heartedly to think of a post that would incorporate the Ferret Olympics story because I really just wanted to post that.

It is a NON-PROFIT fundraiser for FERRETS. How is that harming the Olympics or "using" their name to make money. Christ. How unbelievably petty.

And the only reason they won't touch the Special Olympics is because they'd be eviscerated. They decided a while ago to leave it be.
posted by peep at 10:15 AM on August 17, 2005

There's one case where the IOC sued Rhino Records for a releasing a best-of compilation by the doo-wop group, the Olympics. When the IOC claimed that people would be confused by an album titled Best of the Olympics, the presiding judge allegedly said that even mentally retarded contestants in the Special Olympics would be able to tell the difference between an official album from the Olympic Games and a doo-wop album with black guys in 1950s-style pompadours on the cover. The judge said if a person couldn't tell those records apart that they probably were too physically or mentally debilitated to find their way to a record store anyway. Too bad such common sense in copyright cases seems rare today.
posted by jonp72 at 10:44 AM on August 17, 2005

ericb writes "After nine years of slippery, slinky competition, the Ferret Olympics is being forced to change its name — the U.S. Olympic Committee has threatened to sue."

Same kind of bullshit forced the Olympics of the Mind to change it's name to Odyssey of the Mind. The IOC actually sent people to the world finals the first couple years after the switch over to make sure no one was using the old name.

Poagao writes "with this design for a t-shirt we could sell here in Taiwan."

That is a real good take, convinced me to install greasemonkey so I could download it.
posted by Mitheral at 11:12 AM on August 17, 2005

I feel like starting a business, just to call it Olympic. But I'll settle for boycotting their sponsers. When or if I find out who they are.
posted by jb at 11:50 AM on August 17, 2005

I might care more if the "Hopefuls" didn't suck just as bad as the "Olympic Hopefuls".......
posted by djseafood at 11:53 AM on August 17, 2005

I'll come right out and say it. Fuck the Olympics. Oops, I mean 'have sexual intercourse with' the Olympics.
posted by telstar at 1:52 PM on August 17, 2005

And the only reason they won't touch the Special Olympics is because they'd be eviscerated.

Funny, it seems like I always hear in these cases that if you are enforcing a trademark you have to go after every instance or be seen as abandoning your claim in the eyes of the law. Is that argument entirely specious?
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 2:02 PM on August 17, 2005

From the Special Olympics website:
"In February 1988, the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the umbrella organization of the Olympic movement, officially recognized Special Olympics and agreed to cooperate with Special Olympics as a representative of the interests of athletes with intellectual disabilities. Special Olympics is the only organization authorized by the IOC to use the word 'Olympics' worldwide."
posted by ericb at 3:38 PM on August 17, 2005

Assorted signs of shark-jumping by organizers and telecasters of the Olympics*:

Increasing dissociation from sports. Calculated attempt to reach out to stereotypical other half of the audience? Anyway, in 1984, the TV crew couldn't manage to stay with a hockey game for more than five minutes without jumping to some treacly human-interest story about a figure skater's life-affirming triumph over something to do with figure skating.

Overemphasis on the spectacle. TV coverage is trending toward a formula of full opening ceremonies and full closing ceremonies bracketing nothing but soft-focus bios of American athletes, scenes of medal winners standing on the pedestal, and commercials. Figure skating will the the last event to be actually shown.

Delayed broadcast. You couldn't get away with tape-delaying the Super Bowl three hours on the west coast. Then again, that's an apples and oranges argument, because the Olympics is not sports.

Dumb announcers. 2004 opening ceremonies: "aren't they hot in those costumes?" one NBC talking head asks. Yes, I know your daytime/reality TV audience is probably wondering that, too; but you are representing our country and you are embarrassing us with your fatuous observations.

Also, can we lose the nitpicking analysts in the judged events? ("oh, that'll cost her at least half a point") They must be a joy to live with at home.

* sorry, I meant to say "Olympic Games"**
** sorry, I meant to say "Games of the XVIIIIth*** Olympiad"
*** when not in Rome, do not as the Romans
**** shark-jumping might be a cool demonstration sport
posted by kurumi at 3:47 PM on August 17, 2005

I lost all interest in the Olympics when it stopped being a 'once every 4 years' event to a 'once every 2 years' thing. I don't know if the frequency shift is what actually caused it to lose its luster, but it certainly happened at the same time.
posted by davelog at 6:41 AM on August 18, 2005 [1 favorite]

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