Thursday 24 May 2012

Olympic Brand Protection? More Like Repression of Free Speech

Yesterday, the Twitter account of the serial troublemakers The Space Hijackers (who I have written about before) was temporarily suspended after a complaint by the London organisers of this summer's Olympic Games. The group, which has been satirically promoting itself as the Official Protesters of the London 2012 Olympic Games, received an e-mail from Twitter that said:
We have received reports from the trademark holder, London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Ltd, that your account, @spacehijackers, is using a trademark in a way that could be confusing or misleading with regard to a brand affiliation. Your account has been temporarily suspended due to violation of our trademark policy.

LOCOG has extraordinarily powerful brand protection rights – they are enshrined in law within the Olympic Symbol etc. (Protection) Act 1995 and prevent the use of “the Olympic symbol, the Olympic motto or a protected word” for commercial purposes. However, the Act also limits the powers that LOCOG can exercise by saying they do not apply when “the person using the work does not do so with a view to gain for himself or another or with the intent to cause loss to another.”

This is what makes the use of brand protection threats against a group like the Space Hijackers seem like deliberate repression of free speech. They are quite obviously taking the piss out of the way that, in order to satisfy corporate sponsors, there are 'Official Partners' for everything during the Games. It does appear that, given the chance, LOCOG would willingly commercialise and seek sponsorship for practically everything, even the act of protesting against the Olympics itself.

However, it is hard to see how anyone could mistakenly believe that the Space Hijackers have genuinely been granted 'Official Protester' status, how they might stand to gain financially from sending up LOCOG's obsessive branding or how this has “the intent to cause loss to another”. Is there another genuine 'Official Protester' that stands to lose financially, or have I missed something? You really don't need to be a rocket scientist to see this is satire. It almost seems that the London organisers' lawyers haven't bothered to read section 4 of the 1995 Act on the limitations of its effect.

But it also appears that LOCOG is only capable of seeing the Olympic symbols as a way for predatory commercial competitors to cash in on its brand – which itself is a damning indictment of how corporate and money-obsessed the Olympics have now become.

1 Comment:

Europe's No 1 Anti Ryanair Campaigner John Foley.... said...

To not agree will lead to arrest when it comes to the Olypics...''wait and see''..

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