Can I use Olympic-related words and emblems?

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As the Opening Ceremony for Paris draws nearer, it’s important that businesses know the rules around using Olympic-related words and emblems. 

In New Zealand, the Major Events Management Act 2007 (the Act) provides certain protections for major events of international significance, including the Olympics.  This means there are some permanent restrictions on using Olympic emblems and words, like the Five Ring Olympic symbol, and even the words “Paris 2024”.

One of the main goals of the Act is to stop unauthorized businesses from cashing in on these events through things like ambush marketing.  So, you can’t say or imply your products and services are connected to the Olympics without proper approval – even if you also use words like ‘unauthorised’ or ‘unofficial’. 

There are some exceptions, but basically, the Act says you can’t use protected names or symbols (or any similar versions) in a way that makes it look like you or your products/services are linked to the Olympics, unless you have permission from the New Zealand Olympic Committee.

If you use these names or symbols without authorisation, you could be fined up to NZ$150,000.

Also, the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand won’t register any trade marks that improperly use Olympic names or symbols. Advertisements that do the same would also be in breach of the Advertising Standards Code, and some misrepresentations might also violate the Fair Trading Act 1986.

For more details on how to navigate these rules, check out the advertising and social media guidelines from the New Zealand Olympic Committee and New Zealand Major Events here: NZ Olympic Committee Guidelines and Major Events Guidelines

If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to our  Intellectual Property Team

Disclaimer: The content of this article is general in nature and not intended as a substitute for specific professional advice on any matter and should not be relied upon for that purpose.

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