Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Vancouver 2010 - let the litigation begin!

Attention advertisers, and artists of all kinds but especially documentarians, photographers, etc....

Get ready not to "use" such words as "Vancouver" and "2010" in the same context unless you want to be sued by the rich, aggressive and historically ultra-litigious Canadian Olympic machine.....

Bill C-47 would be the most fundamental alteration to Canadian trade-mark law in over 50 years - and all for one special interest group that happens to have a lot of tax payer funding behind it...

The concept of a special Olympic bill isn't bad per se and this one could be worse but still needs a lot - and I mean a LOT - of work in Committee...

Some of it's flaws are explained in Jennifer Ditchburn's CP story, which quotes your's truly....

And yes - it relates to copyright. Because many of the protected marks are also capable of copyright protection and you can be sure that the painful absence of a satire and parody exception in Canadian copyright law will be exploited by the Olympic lawyers without humour and without hesitation.


1 comment:

  1. The legislation needs to be put in context to be able to assess whether it's worth being alarmed about.

    First, it's similar to legislation approved by Parliament during the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, and the 1967 Summer Games in Montreal, given the state of copyright law and the level of ambush marketing at the time.

    It's virtually identical in wording to that used by Australia by the 2000 Summer Games, which was informed by a great deal of commercial ambush marketing that had taken place against the IOC and the Olympics by that point.

    All of them had similar sunset clauses as well.

    The general rationale for the legislation is that standard copyright law takes a while to act and enforce things, and generally envisions an attacked organization, and an organization violating brands as all being around for the two or three years necessary for everybody to prove their points.

    The Olympics are due to start in 36 months, and will take about a month to run, and have an audience of roughly 3 billion. The brand power of the Vancouver Games allows it to raise roughly 25% to 30% of the estimated C$2 billion needed to operate the Games. (The operations funds, which are all privately raised, are separate from the much smaller taxpayer contribution to the capital costs of on-going facilities).

    You also have to note that the Canadian government is a partner with the IOC in hosting the Games, and promised back in 2002 during the bid phase it would do precisely this kind of thing.

    Given those obligations, a sweet target, an extremely aggressive team of world-wide firms that thrive on ambush marketing, and the short time frame, the Vancouver Olympics (and others before it) really do need government protection and the ability to move quickly to stop brand damage before it can kill the beneficial corporate sponsorship that literally encourages a strong, measurable increase in sports participation throughout the country.

    The reality is that VANOC's legal department is basically overworked with a thousand other things to do in a really short time than take Canadians to court for incidental transgression of its marks.

    Under the law, is it possible VANOC might do that? Sure, but therre's no shortage of government and public oversight built into the Games. Is it anywhere close to likely it will happen? No.

    Peter Morgan, Editor, Morgan:News:2010
    A news service that follows the business side of the 2010 Winter Games.