Olympic bullying drives goggle-maker to verse

Barry sez, "UVEX, the ski goggle maker, got a nastygram from an Olympics Committee IP lawyer, forbidding them from using any images -- or even mentioning -- that gold medal winner Lindsey Vonn uses their equipment."

So UVEX turned to verse:

Blonde Who Uses Our Stuff Wins Downhill (Last Name Rhymes With "Bonn")

There once was a lawyer from the IOC,
who called us to protect "intellectual property."

"During the Olympics", she said with a sneer
"your site can't use an Olympian's name even if they use your gear."

"No pictures, no video, no blog posts can be used..."
Even if they are old? "No!", she enthused.

While Olympians chase gold the IOC pursues green.
Cough up millions, or your logo cannot be seen . . .

Theoretically, a trademark claim is partly about protecting a company's name from "tarnishment," but it's hard to imagine how one could tarnish the IOC's reputation any further, between the naked greed, the unchecked bullying, the corruption and bribery, the doping, and the censorship. Oh, and the thousands of poor people inevitably evicted whenever the Olympics come to town. Is there any way the IOC's reputation could sink lower?

Blonde we like wins Downhill (Last name rhymes with "Bonn") (Thanks, Barry!)


  1. I love watching sports. I enjoy what the Olympics are supposed to be about. But I’m not taking part in this crap at all. I don’t even check the results.
    That’s my personal boycott of the IOC.

    I’ve followed all Olympics for around 20 years, but this is just ridiculous.

  2. Is there any way the IOC’s reputation could sink lower?

    Yes: they could require your bobsled to be made out of babies.

  3. From this point on, each time I see the uvex logo, I will have a warm fuzzy feeling in my tummy.. What a great ad :-)

  4. Cory says, “Is there any way the IOC’s reputation could sink lower?”

    Sure: threaten athletes who protest discriminatory policies with intentionally punitive decisions. In response to being asked if women will be allowed to ski jump in 2014 Olympics: “We’ll have to wait and see,” IOC member Dick Pound said in an interview for an MSNBC.com documentary on women’s ski jumping, Frozen Out of the Olympics. “If in the meantime you’re making all kinds of allegations about the IOC and how it’s discriminating on the basis of gender,” he warned, “the IOC may say, ‘Oh yeah, I remember them. They’re the ones that embarrassed us and caused us a lot of trouble of trouble in Vancouver, maybe they should wait another four years or eight years.'”


  5. I work for another winter sports company, one with an atlete who uses our equipment who won gold for the US. The IOC came to our company after it was posted on our site “Congrats to our olympic {users}”, and told us to take it down, and not mention any users (but especially not the gold winning one) in the weeks leading up to and after the olympics.

    However, if we would have liked to have become an olympic sponsor, we could happily use his name and rather famous profile.

  6. Eventually you will not be able to run down the street without paying royalties to the guy who owns the rights to the concept of “jogging.”

  7. Maybe I’m a little naive on this, but what authority do they realistically hold? I can see their authority over video and pictures (to an extent…) but over a persons NAME…that’s a little much. Banning or decertifying their equipment wouldn’t do much good since they’d likely lose the inevitable court case, because, well, they seem to be punitive &%@#heads…

    1. They can sue the hell out of the company that treads on their delicate toes. And even if the little guy were to win (good joke, given our current Supreme Corporat.. er, Court), most small companies couldn’t afford to defend themselves. The IOC is just another arm of the international corporate octopus.

  8. Nicely done! Residents of Washington’s Olympic Peninsula see this kind of bullying as well. The USOC got legislation passed in the ’90s giving them rights to the word “olympic” in the US. The only exception is on the Olympic Peninsula, and even here there are restrictions. As one sports lawyer put it, the legislation effectively “took the word olympic out of the English language and gave it to USOC.”

    Since then, the USOC has been quite aggressive in pursuing their “rights” under this legislation. Write a book about what you love on the Olympic Peninsula to help support your guide business? You’ll be hearing from their lawyers. Put together a web site for a business that’s named after our beautiful mountains? There’s a letter for that (the USOC sees a web site as use outside the area).

    I could go on, but the pattern will look familiar from this and earlier articles on the IOC.

  9. I have been down this road with the IOC, fought and lost, fought again and found a way around. You cannot call it the Olympics, but you can call it the The Vancouver 2010 Winter Games.

    You can also use the term ‘Medal Winner’, First Place at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games, and other variations on that theme. you can in fact mention the name of the athelete, just not in the context of the Olympics.

  10. So wait a second… couldn’t uvex sue NBC everytime their logo appears in the broadcast without “prior written approval”?

  11. Anonymous with the pulled YouTube video,

    Your comment disappeared when I tried to publish it. Feel free to resubmit.

  12. Wait, I’m confused. Saying, “So-and-so won a gold medal at the Vancouver Olympics” is a fact, and I was under the impression that at least in the United States reporting a fact isn’t copyrightable/trademarkable. In fact, if the IOC can go after a goggle maker for reporting that fact, why don’t they go after news organizations? I can certainly understand the IOC being very careful to make sure it was reported as factual, as opposed to implying that using a particular goggle specifically makes you a better Olympian (or that the Olympics endorses the product), but congratulating a winner seems like an appropriate thing to do.

    What subtlety am I missing?

  13. Do they actually have any legal claim to this? They don’t own the name of those athletes, nor do they own the fact that an athlete won a metal. Copyright only covers creative works, not facts (though a database of facts can be considered a creative work), and patents only cover procedures and designs, not arbitrary knowledge. Trademark is supposed to keep copycats from using the brand for themselves. Where in this does the IOC have the right to tell another company that they can’t publish a fact about a person that is public knowledge?

    If I were UVEX, I would write back the IOC and tell them that, if they think we are doing something illegal, tell us what it is. Otherwise, stop threatening us with baseless allegations, or we’ll charge you for harassment.

    1. Trademark, not copyright. An anonymous poster above indicated that a company can name the city/venue date and name, one simply cannot use the trademark “Olympics.” Reporting is arguably different from advertising. A company could put out a full page ad saying “Congratulations Olympians, from {Corp.}” and however “factual” or unconnected to a specific product it may be, it’s still advertising.
      Secondly IOC has deep pockets. Even if a company can afford an expensive lawsuit, who really wants to do that? And charge for harassment? What D.A. wants to spend time and money prosecuting that? Threat of legal action is usually intimidating enough. The law itself is actually a different matter. You might want to look at the ongoing North Face vs. South Butt case (not I’m not making that up!)

  14. I think most of these criticisms are ridiculous.

    The difference between an Olympic sporting event and a normal sporting event is night and day. One allows no advertising during the events, and limited advertising outside of the events; the other will shamelessly cram a fucking corporate logo onto every square inch of available surface real estate.

    Most people here are merely upset that the Olympics are a really big deal that commands a huge audience. Consequently, there are many, many organizations, corporate or otherwise, that will go to extreme lengths to grab a slice of that spotlight (homeless protesters and McDonalds make strange bedfellows, don’t they?).

    Handled incorrectly, advertising at the Olympics could be a complete gong show. Regardless of their other behaviour, I think the IOC do an admirable job of reining in the advertising. In this day and age, it’s very refreshing.

    1. Darren, your claim that the Olympics allows no advertising during the event is rather strange. The vast majority of people in the US get all their Olympic coverage via NBC television, who sees fit to play commercials for about 3/4 of the program time.

      I assume that the IOC is just another money-grubbing, lawyer-driven corporation with the agenda of maximizing its shareholder value (whatever that is) at the expense of anything else, including common sense (or any sense at all).

    2. limited advertising outside of the events

      Limited? I felt like the VISA logo was burned into my eyes when I was in Sydney for the Olympics in 2000. As for the television coverage, well from what other posters have said about the US and my own experience with Australian television I’d definitely argue that advertising isn’t all that limited.

  15. The IOC cared enough to contact a little-known rock band from Minneapolis and let them know that under no circumstances would they be able to use the word “olympic” in their band name. From huge companies to 5 Midwestern musicians, that’s how serious and whacked the IOC is.

  16. Let me offer something from a slightly different perspective: as an athlete who participates daily in three different ‘Olympic™’ sports*, FUCK THE OLYMPICS. They’re giving us a bad name.

    *generally not all three on the same day, but sometimes I get kinda crazy.

  17. A relative of mine had some minor dealings with the IOC during the 2002 Winter games and was disgusted by the experience. Her stories, and the IOC’s ongoing antics in years since has soured me on the Olympics and I really don’t pay any attention to them anymore.

  18. I stopped watching the Olympics after Beijing won -nothing against Beijingers themselves of course- but if you can’t at least maintain the facade of being all about human unity and dignity, well…

    I’ve never really been a fan of the Winter Olympics anyway, having lived most of my life in more temperate areas. This just makes me want to be part of the “Olympic Spirit” a whole lot less. The problem with the IOC is that it’s run like a corporation- not a committee.

  19. I always think I won’t be bothered with the winter olympics, because I live in a warm climate and the whole olympics thing gets wildly hyped, and then I happen to flick over to it and I just wig out because they are always doing something mind bogglingly dangerous.

    Thats hard not to watch.

  20. Is there any way the IOC’s reputation could sink lower?

    Only if they fired Jacques Rogge and hired Bono in his place.

    I love the olympics. Pity about the fuckers running it. The IOC’s greatest failure was their miserable response to the Chinese government’s BS. Never should the games have been given to a country that does whatever they want, despite the rules, and respond to criticism with a smiling ‘fuck you’.

  21. Maybe it’s just me, but I think it’s time to flat out tell the IOC to fuck off, and go back to using the word Olympic as we see fit.

    The Olympics may have the trademark on using their name in relation to sports, but under most countries’ laws they cannot stop you from talking about them. If you want to say that Lindsey Vonn won an Olympic medal while using UVEX goggles, go right ahead; it’s a fact, and reporting facts cannot be stifled by trademark law, be it in casual speech, or advertising. Hell, you can even use the Olympics’s logos as much as you want, so long as you do so to identify the Olympics, and don’t use it to cause confusion. (i.e. Say that the owners of this logo °o°o° are complete asshats and they can’t do a damn thing to you; the logo is used to identify the rightful owners, and calling them asshats is you expressing an opinion.)

    If you think that simply owning a trademark can allow you to legally stop people from using your TM’s name, think again: If this were possible, do you think the current Verizon vs. AT&T ads would have ever gotten on the air? How about the old Coke vs. Pepsi taste test ads? Or just about any other “we’re better than XXX” ad ever made?

    Simply put, the IOC is only getting away with this shit because people are too scared to stand up for their rights. These are nothing but standard bullying/barratry/SLAPP lawsuits, and should be treated as such. Send them a back a letter referring them to Arkell v. Pressdram and be done with it.

  22. I lived in Atlanta in 1996, and attended the Olympics there, and I can personally vouch to what an asshole Dick Pound and his wife are- My sympathy to Vancouver.

    1. I can personally vouch to what an asshole Dick Pound and his wife are

      I wanted to confirm what you said, so I googled “asshole Dick Pound” …

      I never realized that was an Olympic sport…

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