Battle for 2012: arts event that fell foul of Olympics

London Games organisers threaten court action over use of next year's date in exhibition name

The overseers of the London 2012 Olympics are hinting at legal action against an events company after objecting to their use of next year's date, "2012", in the name of a forthcoming series of events celebrating British culture.

The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (Locog) is objecting against plans to trademark the name of the forthcoming "Great Exhibition 2012", a series of nationwide initiatives culminating with a two-week festival planned for next August.

Locog has given the exhibition's organisers, the Great Exhibitions Company, until 27 June to withdraw their application or potentially face legal proceedings. They particularly object to the use of "2012" in the event's name, as they consider that date is now widely used to refer to next year's Games.

"I just feel generally upset, as all I am asking for is the right for people to celebrate," said the Great Exhibition Company's chief executive Julie Benson. "At the moment the country next year is a jigsaw and the only bit that is coloured in is London. I just want to go about my business and the law just seems so draconian".

Locog is citing the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act 2006 which prevents people from creating an unauthorised association between a person or organisation and the London 2012 Games.

Alongside Benson, the Great Exhibition 2012's organising committee also includes Evelyn Thurlby, the first chief executive of Cornwall's The Eden Project. The event has won the support of public figures including Michael Parkinson, the Conran Group, Sir Anthony Hopkins and Dame Ellen MacArthur. Eamonn Holmes is one of those quoted on the Great Exhibition's website saying the event will "lift [people's] spirits and expectations about what we as individuals and Britain are capable of". Benson claims to have had discussions with the Duke of York over pledging support to her event, which she hopes will encapsulate "all elements" of British society and culture, and said she has been planning the exhibition, which has already raised around £2m of capital, since 1998.

However Locog claims a representative of the Great Exhibition had admitted to them that the inclusion of the date, "2012", in the name of their event, had made their proposed trademark more valuable. Benson denies this.

"We are unable to comment on individual cases, however, our general approach is always to take a fair and pragmatic approach and deal with any issues on a case by case basis," said a Locog spokesperson. Locog has approached the Great Exhibition's organisers with the opportunity for them to become part of London 2012's Inspire programme. The Great Exhibition would be able to associate themselves with the Games on the proviso they became a non-commercial operation.

"It's certainly true that Locog have been given very strong rights for this specific event and have made very clear that they intend to exercise their powers to their full limits," said Lorna Brazell a copyright lawyer for copyright specialist law firm Bird & Bird. "This kind of debate is going to get more intense as the Olympics approach. In this case, it is the broadest reach of their powers I have seen so far."

Authors have already been approached by Locog for employing titles associating themselves with Olympic terminology. According to a report earlier this month in books trade title The Bookseller, children's author Robert Ronsson has been threatened with legal action because of the title of his self-published work "Olympic Mind Games". Locog's website states that the Olympics' official sponsors must have "an exclusive association to London 2012 and the Olympic and Paralympic movements in the UK".

How Locog keeps a tight grip

* Earlier this year, it emerged that Newham Council was looking into the case of Café Olympic – a café near Stratford Olympic park – over its use of the Olympic name. The 1995 Olympic Symbol Act, amended in 2006 after London won the right to host the Games, makes it difficult for unofficial organisations to exploit certain words, which include Olympiad, Olympians and 2012, for commercial gain.



* Robert Ronsson received legal threats from Locog over his 2007 novel entitled, The Donovan Twins: Olympic Mind Games. He published the book regardless – Locog later withdrew their complaint and did not prosecute him.



* Locog has warned travel agents hoping to cash in on the 2012 Games that they cannot use terms such as London 2012, London 2012.com, Olympic(s) or the Olympic symbol in business names, promotions or advertising material. Some agents have already received warnings, with fines thought to be up to £20,000.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Digital Marketing Executive

£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A luxury beauty house with a nu...

Recruitment Genius: Housekeepers - Immediate Start

£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This company are currently recruiting new exp...

Recruitment Genius: Head Concierge

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This award winning Property Man...

Recruitment Genius: Content, SEO and PPC Executive

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Day In a Page

On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral