If you’re reading this blog entry of the Southern California business law firm of Larson & Gaston on its posting date or thereabouts, there’s a fair chance you might be splitting your attention between its subject matter and what’s currently going on at the Olympic Games in Brazil.
Because it’s that time, of course, with the world paying — as it always does — rapt attention to the drama and pulsing excitement surrounding the globe’s best athletes.
Large companies trying to sell products know that the Games are golden in more than one way, with an approximate two-week window being open to hawk their wares in front of a spectacularly huge audience already hyped by excitement.
And they know this, too: They best not even think about piggybacking on the Olympic bandwagon unless they cough up the bucks — that is, lots of bucks — to do so.
When we note above that the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) “bristles” over marketing schemes it believes infringe its intellectual property, we mean it.
A recent ESPN spotlight on the USOC and its strong legal response to perceived infringement attempts notes that the organization views its many protected slogans, images and other trademarks in the same manner as parents perceive their children.
That is, it carefully protects them.
Put another way: If you’re a company having an endorsement contract with an Olympic athlete, for example, and you’re about to run a commercial with that athlete that somehow hypes the Games, you’d better have a sponsorship or licensing agreement in place with the USOC before doing so.
Because if you don’t, you’re going to experience some legal hard ball, given that the USOC simply doesn’t condone any marketing activities that exploit its intellectual property without having paid for the privilege.
And that makes sense, doesn’t it?
Many companies with products and services to sell certainly think so. After all, they’re currently inundating the airwaves with Olympic-themed commercials and happily paying the price to do so.
In fact, one might be competing against this blog post for your attention this very second.