Rio Olympics: Why GTB, other Nigerian brands may be sued

By Emmanuel Olutokun

The much awaited 2016 Rio Olympics is here, many qualified athletes are either in the groove making their nations proud or getting prepared to do so including Nigeria. Brands are also not left out as many are already thinking up creative and innovative ways to leverage on this historic event.

But before you start thinking of that heart-wrenching and mind boggling way to connect with your fans during this global event and also set social media on fire. It is important that you are aware that the International Olympic Committee is set to spit fire and take legal actions on non-sponsors who uses any trademarked element from the Olympics in their communication (Somebody is already thinking this is naija, dem no fit catch us, but calm down first).

The IOC is enforcing its infamous Rule 40 of the Olympic charter which states that “Except as permitted by the IOC Executive board, no competitor, coach, trainer or official who participates in the Olympic Games may allow his person, name, picture or sports performances to be used for advertising purposes during the Olympic Games.” Looks awkward right?

Rule 40 was reawakened to sanitize and preserve the unique nature of the Olympics games by preventing Over-commercialization and also to allow the focus remain on the athletics. This implies that non-sponsors of the event all over the world are not permitted to use certain terms, symbols, logos and phrases that are trademarks of Olympics in any of their communication.

Individuals, News Media and 2016 Olympics sponsor like Coca cola and Samsung, seems to be the groups of people who are allowed to use the intellectual property of the Olympics without any restrictions.
I stumbled upon this harmless post made by the GTBank team on LinkedIn some days back and I thought to myself that many Nigerian brands are actually guilty of using trademarked contents without permission. And if these continues many may start becoming victims of legal suits over their careless acts which will inadvertently pose a threat to the integrity of such brand.

 Nigerian brands still try to compare themselves with the consumer who can copy and use a content without verification(Wrong! But they still do it). Jumia Nigeria recently got dragged into such quagmire over the consistent use of the picture of a Nigeria actor without due permission, agreement or contact.
The international Olympics committee requires each host country to create special trademark protection laws which countries like the USA have done but am still wondering why such is least mentioned in Nigeria.

For those who are not aware of the Olympic guidelines, here's a sample of the Olympic Committee's many prohibitions against business activity during the games.

1. Businesses can't use any of the Olympics' trademarked words or phrases. These terms include:
Go for the gold
Let the games begin

2. You can't use terms that reference the location of the Olympics, such as:
Road to Rio
Road to Pyeongchang
Road to Tokyo
Rio 2016
Pyeongchang 2018
Tokyo 2020

3. You must not use words that incorporate the word "Olympic," such as Mathlympics, Aqualympics, Chicagolympics, Radiolympics, etc.

4. You can't use hashtags that include Olympics trademarks such as #TeamNigeria or #Rio2016.

5. You cannot use any official Olympics logos.
6. You cannot post any photo taken at the Olympics.
7. You can't feature Olympic athletes in your social posts- Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc..
8. You can't even wish them luck.
9. You can’t post any Olympics results.
10. You can't share anything from official Olympics social media accounts. Even retweets are prohibited.

11. No creating your own version of Olympic symbols, "whether made from your own logo, triangles, hexagons, soda bottle tops, onion rings, car tires, drink coasters, basketballs, etc."

12. "Do not host an Olympic- or Paralympic-themed contest or team-building event for employees."

These rules come into play, nine days prior to the opening ceremony (July 27th, 2016) to three days after the closing ceremony of the Rio 2016 Olympics games. (August 24th, 2016).
Credit: BrandCrunch.
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