VANOC’s trademark plan raises questions 

Olympic officials will offer new information to keep the public on the right side of the law

By Clare Ogilvie

Since the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games revealed the scores of words and phrases they and their partners have claimed as official marks under the Trademark Act, phone calls have been coming in.

“We are starting to get the calls and we are trying to coach people through it as best we can,” said Bill Cooper director of brand protection for VANOC.

VANOC is also revamping the trademark section of its website ( www.vancouver2010.com ) to give as much information to people as possible so that it is clear where the boundaries are.

“We will lay out those considerations very carefully and bucket it in user groups so that we can walk through real examples we have experienced at the Torino Games with specific sections, so the business section, the community institution section, and the public section,” said Cooper.

Included in the list of trademarked words and phrases is “Sea to Sky”, “2010”, “winter” and even “friend”.

When asked why VANOC had taken such a sweeping attitude toward trade marking Cooper said the answer is simple: They have an obligation to the International Olympic Committee to do so, and they have an obligation to their commercial partners to make sure their investment is not diluted in the market place.

“The need relates to the scale of investment,” he said.

“We really are trying to stage a spectacular Games here and we are trying to not only stage spectacular Games but we are contributing significant funding to the Own The Podium program and in order to do that we are demanding an enormous investment from the commercial partners and what we are doing is trying to ensure the protection of their investment.”

In Whistler’s phonebook alone there are 16 companies that use Sea to Sky in their name.

Kal Kaila of Sea to Sky Courier and Freight said there have been some discussions about VANOC’s trade marking of “Sea to Sky”.

But, “we are not concerned,” he said adding that his company does lots of work for VANOC.

The courier company regularly advertises and doesn’t expect there to be any problems in the future but if there were, Kaila said: “We’ll just cross that bridge when we come to it.”

While Olympic organizations have claimed a number of official marks, that has no retroactive impact on companies that used the names prior to VANOC and its partners claiming them.

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