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Lord Coe defends strict policing of use of Olympics branding

Keeping tight control of Olympics branding rights helps to save taxpayers from paying extra to subsidise the Games, the chairman of the London 2012 organising committee has said.14 May 2012

Lord Coe said placing strict controls over the use of Olympics-related terms and images was important in order that the UK could afford to host the Games.

"Our ability to stage the Games is in large part based on our ability to bring the sponsors to the table." Lord Coe said on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show on Sunday.

"Our first port of call on this has always been education rather than litigation and in large part that is what we have done," he said. "But it is very important to remember that by protecting these brands; by protecting the companies that have actually put money into the Games, we are also protecting the taxpayer because if we don't reach those [revenue] targets then the taxpayer is the guarantor of last resort."

Under the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act advertisers cannot use any two of the following terms together: 'Games', 'Two thousand and twelve', '2012' and 'Twenty twelve'. Neither can they use one of those terms in conjunction with any of: 'Gold', 'Silver', 'Bronze', 'London', 'Medals', 'Sponsors', 'Summer'. Breaking the terms of the Act could result in a £20,000 fine. Only official sponsors are allowed to use the terms as part of promotions.

Traders will also generally be said to be infringing on the London Olympics Association Right "if in the course of trade ... [and] in relation to goods or services" they use "any representation (of any kind) in a manner likely to suggest to the public that there is an association between the London Olympics" and their goods or services, or their business.

There are exceptions where non-sponsors would not be said to be infringing on the London Olympics Association Right. These include where "the use of a representation ... is necessary to indicate the intended purpose of a product or service". Publishers or broadcasters can also make representations where they are merely providing information about the Games.

In addition, new regulations placing restrictions on Olympics advertising and street trading in certain "event zones" during the time of those events have also been introduced.

Under the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (Advertising and Trading) (England) Regulations generally prevent companies or people either engaging or arranging advertising during the set times and in the set zones if the advertising "relates to a good, service, business or other concern in which the person has an interest or for which the person is responsible, or takes place on land, premises or other property that the person owns or occupies or of which the person has responsibility for the management". Similar legislation has also been introduced in Wales and Scotland where some London 2012 events are due to take place.

Generally the London Organising Committee (LOCOG) must authorise such activity before it can be legitimate, but there are some exceptions to the rules, such as if advertising is contained as part of legitimate demonstrations. The demonstrations can be in order to publicise beliefs or mark a commemoration, providing they do not involve the promotion or advertisement of goods, services, a person or body if those people and bodies provide goods or services. Those rules do not apply to no-for-profit organisations.

Further exceptions allow people to display brands on their body or personal property, or wear branded clothing, "unless the individual knows or has reasonable cause to believe that he or she is participating in an ambush marketing campaign".

An 'ambush marketing campaign', in which advertising is undertaken without payment to the Olympics, is prohibited under the new laws. The practice refers to one or more acts "intended specifically to advertise" goods, services or a person providing goods or services "in an event zone during the relevant event period or periods".

The Regulations also set out rules on advertising that appears on personal communication devices, such as mobile phones. Advertisers will be allowed to display ads to individuals via those devices but are prohibited from doing so if they intend "the advertisement to be displayed, by means of the device, to the public at large".

Unauthorised displays of advertising on animals or where animals display or carry advertising "apparatus" is also prohibited in the event zones during the set times under the new Regulations.

As part of its drive to protect sponsors' rights to the use of Olympics branding, LOCOG earlier this year issued new guidance to UK gambling operators citing day-to-day operations that could see those operators liable for infringement.

Amongst its guidance LOCOG said gambling operators are not allowed to use "any of the protected Games marks" other than "within factual statements" and that they "must not produce any promotions, adverts, products, special offers, websites, or other promotional media or public relations which suggest or imply that [they are] associated with the Games or that a Games Bet is an official product of the Games."