Games organisers accused of being overzealous in protecting the brand

 

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The Independent Online

The "overzealous" policing of Olympic trademarks is preventing small British companies from benefiting from the Games, business leaders have warned.

Representive bodies say the clampdown on the use of Olympic symbols and terminolgy, by the organisers of the London Games, Locog, has "lost all sense of proportion" and is holding back the kind of small firms the Games had promised to help.

John Walker, national chairman for the Federation of Small Businesses, said he recognised the need to protect the Olympic brand but believed the body was going too far in it's enforcement. "In their zeal, Locog appear to have lost all sense of reasonableness and proportion," he said. "Given that the Games were 'sold' to the taxpayer as a boon for the UK economy, small firms should feel the London Olympics are an opportunity, rather than a threat."

Last week, a barrister from Locog's brand protection team phoned an entertainment company in Brighton to tell them the words "Olympics" and "London 2012" must be removed from their website immediately to avoid court action.

The agency, H2oh! Entertainment, was selling circus and variety acts for corporate functions in the build up to the Games. The site now reads: "Sports themed acts for 2012."

"Most people I've told the story to have laughed, and that's what I have done because it's so ridiculous, but there's a serious edge, and you wonder why an organisation like Locog is allowed to pursue small businesses in this sinister way," said H2oh! director Helen Day, pictured.

Having made the changes, she received another call. One of the acts, the aerial hoops, posed with hoops in the Olympic colours, was too much like the Olympic logo.

Ms Day isn't the first to fall foul of official brand guidelines. The University of Derby was forced to take down a banner which read: "Supporting the London Olympics", and a lingerie shop in Melton had to remove a window display of Olympic-coloured hula hoops.

A Locog spokesperson said: "Locog has an obligation to protect and preserve the exclusive rights to associate with the Olympic, Paralympic and London 2012 brands."

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