Thursday, August 26, 2004

Truth and Trademarks

They are not threatening a lawsuit, as far as I can tell, but the US Olympic Committee is still in the wrong for asking the Bush campaign to pull an ad that mentions the Olympics over trademark concerns:

The ad has angered Olympic officials because they feel it hijacks the Olympic brand -- a registered trademark -- even though it does not display the Games logo.


The IOC said no official request had been made for the use of the reference to the Games.

"We own the rights to the Olympic name and nobody asked us," Gerhard Heiberg, head of the International Olympic Committee's Marketing Commission had said on Wednesday.

I understand the desire to avoid politicizing the Olympics, even though it happens pretty much every election. But the specific complaint here is poorly considered. As the article notes, no actual trademark violation has occured. Simply mentioning the Olympics doesn't constitute unauthorized use.

But my real problem with this request concerns the actual message the Olympic committee found objectionable:
The television advertisement, ahead of the presidential elections in November, does not feature the five Olympic rings -- one of the world's most recognizable images -- but an announcer tells viewers that at "this Olympics there will be two more free nations," referring to the U.S.-led invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq under Bush's presidency.

Afghanistan returned to this year's Games after its Olympic Committee, controlled by the then ruling hard-line Taliban regime, was suspended in 1999 and missed the 2000 Sydney Games.

The IOC reinstated Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein.

Surely, that is a reasonble point for the president to be making. It is an uncontestable fact that Afghanistan and Iraq would not be participating in the Olympics this year, if not for US intervention. You might make the argument that those tyrannical regimes would have fallen eventually without our help. I might even be inclined to agree, since I believe that every tyranny, being essentially a human attempt to usurp the authority of God, is doomed to failure both metaphysically and politically. But the fact remains that those inevitble results were achieved this year through the mediation of the US military. Saying so hardly seems a matter for trademark disputes.
(Via Ramblings Journal)

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