I. Gerneral Situation of Intellecutal Property of Olympic logo

IOC (International Olympic Committee) makes basic requirements regarding the protection of Olympic logo, which includes trademark registration in related countries and even at the global level, usage or autrorized usage by entitled organization in according to the regulations, not usage without permission for all intents and purposes, protecting commercial revenue of authorized user through Olympic symbol and eliminating the illegal use, tracing legal responsibility for illegal use including compensation.

Intellectual property protection of Olympic symbol inChinais a multi-level and comprehensive. First of all, the IOC has registered trademarks, patents and copyrights in most countries of the world. Therefore the Olympic symbol is protected in these countries. Secondly, the trademark office of the State administration for industry and Commerce promulgated and implemented the provision on the protection of the Olympic symbols (referred to as “provisions”) on April  1, 2002 according to the requirements of the International Olympic Committee. The provisions provide for six types of protected Olympic symbols, including the name, emblem, logo, and etc.which is associated with the Olympic symbols. Thirdly, local governments issued local regulations related to the protection of the Olympic symbol. Therefore, inChina, there are laws to go by regarding the protection of the Olympic symbol. Fourthly, the 29th Organizing Committee of Olympic Games had signed license agreements and confidentiality agreements with the sponsors who are involving in the manufacture and sales of the Olympic label products. Anyone, who excess the scope of license agreement, may cause the defaults and infringement, which will bear the legal liabilities. Lastly, State Industrial and commercial administration departments at all levels are important administrative organizations in fighting against counterfeit products and IPR infringement of the products which carry Olympic logos. Industrial and commercial departments take the government actions including spot checks, special compaigns and rewards to informants, which provide a guarantee with fighting against infringement.

Meanwhile, Trademark Office of the State Administration for Industrial and Commerce had recorded 69 Olympic trademarks and registered 7 special trademarks. Thus, in actual usage of trademarks situation, any trademark, which is identical or similar to the Olympic marks and is easy to confuse consumers, will defined with illegal activities of trademark right infringement. 

When designing the trademark logo by the 29th Organizing Committee of Olympic Games, the committee is also eligible for its copyright. Where a party, without the authorization of the use of the Olympic logos on the products, the party shall be in violation of copyright law and constitute an infringement act of copyright. Beijing Organization Committee of Olympic Games also applied patent design applications on Olympic logos, which is also a protection that is specific to the concrete products selling in the market, for example, stuffed toys and commemorative coins. Where a party, using design patterns on the products in related to the Olympic symbol without the permission of the Organizing Committee, the party may also be seeked legal actions against patent infringement. 

II. Present situation and analysis on infringement of intellectual property rights of Chinese Olympic symbol

As the approaching of the 29th Olympic game, a number of businessmen would like to enjoy considerable tailwinds from the Olympic Games. However, it should be in compliance with the protection of Olympic intellectual property rights under the law or it will be seeked legal actions against patent infringement. According to the report from Xinhua Online of Beijing dated June 12, the State Administration for Industry and Commerce said on 12th, in 2006 China National Administration for Industry and Commerce had investigated and dealt with 428 cases of violations of the exclusive rights of the Olympic symbols, which is increased by 45% than that in 2005. At a press conference organized jointly by the State administration for industry and commerce and the State Council Information Office, a written material issued by the State Administration for Industry and Commerce showed that, from 2004 to 2006, National Industrial and Commercial Administrative departments have investigated and dealt with 1128 cases of violations of the exclusive rights of the Olympic symbols, which is the amounts of 14.89 million Yuan and the fines of 8.38 million Yuan, includes 2 cases and 7 people transferred to judicial organization for criminal responsibility.

It is shown that, Chinese Government enforcement efforts in combating violations of intellectual property rights protection of the Olympic symbols are obvious. However, due to the Olympic Games that contain huge business opportunities, there are still many businessmen would like to take risks. At present the types of infringement cases on intellectual property of Olypic Games include:

a.    Using the same or similar trademark, special mark, patents, and other creative works in production, management, advertising, promotions and other commercial activities without authorization;

b.    Counterfeiting or unauthorized manufacturing identical or similar trademarks, special symbols or selling counterfeit or unauthorized manufacturing brand identity and special symbols;

c.    Using the identical or similar trademarks, special signs, patents, and other works in a disguised ways;

d.    Using the identical or similar trademarks, special signs, patents, and other works for registeration of Web sites, domain names, geographic name, buildings name, structures name and sites name in enterprises, public institutions, social groups, privately-run non-enterprise units without authorization.

To sum up, there are two categories infringement activities regarding Olympic intellectual property in the society.

One categety is that subjectively it has obvious hitchhiked intention with the ill will, and objectively it uses the Olympic symbols associated with the mark, name, emblem, etc without the permission of the rights. For example, Trademark Division under Beijing Haidian District Bureau of Industry and Commerce recently investigated an online game case which is in violation of the regulations on the protection of the Olympic symbols and of using Olympic logo. The online game New Strategy of Three Kingdoms IV, jointly organized by Beijing Zhonglian Network Technology Limited Liability Company and Haoyu Interactive Science and Technology Co. Ltd., unauthorized uses the Olympic logo for commercial purposes, which is in violation of the regulations on the protection of the Olympic symbols. Another example is that, some restaurants show the signs of “Enjoying the delicious dish, welcome the Olympics” for attracting customers, and these are actually unrelated with Olympics, which is also illegal acts of the Olympic symbol. 

The other category is that, it does not have the ill will subjectively, but objectively it has infringment actions for violating the Olymic intellecutal property rights, which is also in violation of law. For example, Beijing Bureau of industry and Commerce had investigated in the Xiushui market of counterfeit Olympic mascots "Five Friendlies". The stall owners emphasize that they bought their mascots from Olympic merchandise retail outlets in Gongmei building and bought two sets in total of10 mascots. They also shown the invoice of Gongmei building to the people from Industrial and Commercial Bureau and confirmed that they are authentic products. However, people from Industrial and Commercial Bureau express that unauthorized sale of Olympic mascots, which is even authentic products, is also an infringement action. In this case, the stall owners have no ill will obviously, and the mascots with the Olympic logo have legal source. Hoever, in accordance with the relevant provisions of the fourth paragraph fourth and eighth in regulations of Olympic symbols protection, the stall owners have to sign legal contacts with the 29th Oganizing Committee of Olympic Games and the right owners of Olympic symbol have to report to the Industrial and Commercial Administration departments for the record of the licensing contracts before December  31, 2008 if they would like to sell Olympic mascots. Thus, any businessmen as long as makes the unauthorized sales of Olympic symbols without authorization, which also constitutes infringement action of exclusive rights of the Olympic simbols. 

III. How to use the Olympic logos correctly?

It can be concluded from the above cases that, if businessmen use the Olympic symbols for commercial purposes, first of all, they should acquire the permission of the rights of Olympic symbols from the owners in accordance with the regulations, and should sign a licensing contract with the Olympic symbol rights owners. Meanwhile, the owners of the Olympic symbol rights have to report to the Industrial and Commercial Administration departments for the record of the licensing contracts. In addition, where the licensees sign the licensing contract in accordance with the provisions of the preceding paragraph, they have to use the Olympic symbols within the geographical scope and within a period in the contract. Any action, exceeding the contract period, geographye, and scope in the use of the Olympic symbols, constitutes the violation of law. Finally, Olympic trademark use should also comply with the relevant provisions of the trademark law, patent law, and copyright law, or it may also constitute an act of infringement of intellectual property rights.

 

Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation v. Beijing Sohu Internet Information Service Co., Ltd.
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