If you are planning to use London 2012 related keywords in your SEO, online marketing, and social media campaigns to drive traffic to your site and to boost sales, you might want to rethink your strategy. While there are clear social media guidelines for participants, non-participants seem to believe that they are free to use London 2012-themed strategies as they see fit.
Unless you are a journalist or a LOCOG-approved advertiser, use of Olympic-themed campaigns may come with repercussions.
London 2012, as well as any official names, phrases, trademarks, logos, and designs related to the 2012 Olympics, are protected by intellectual property laws, and this is not just in the U.K. Every country may have a set of rules and regulations regarding London 2012 terminology and derivatives.
Even words like Olympian, Olympiad, their plurals, or words very similar to them (e.g. Olympix) can get you in trouble. Any use of these representations in the course of your trade without written consent from LOCOG infringes on intellectual property rights, and it could result in serious consequences that include fines and/or other sanctions.
The London Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) will be using Nielsen for media monitoring, including social media, and they will act against those who infringe on their intellectual property rights. The IOC will also be monitoring social media, and it encourages users to report inapropriate and unauthorized content at http://www.olympicgamesmonitoring.com/.
To give you a concrete example, for online marketers, registering a domain using any of the Games’ Marks is strictly prohibited. URLs including the word “Olympic” or any similar words, such as www.mynameolympic.com (in English or in any foreign language) are not allowed unless approved by the IOC or LOCOG. For those who are not marketers, if they believe that they have a legitimate reason for using a Games’ Mark within a domain name, they can request permission by emailing email@example.com.
The only allowed use of London 2012 trademarks is for non-commercial purposes or for journalists to illustrate news and editorials about the Games. The “editorial” exception does not apply to businesses that produce newsletters, client bulletins, or other marketing collateral.
Are there ways around these restrictions? It all depends on how creative you can get. An editorial by John Graham-Cumming of The Guardian U.K. suggests a possible approach that replaces London 2012 with Londinium MMXII; however, remember that the LOCOG takes action against derivatives, too. Do read the article, though, as it offers some brilliant ideas for marketers to capitalize on this summer’s big event without actually using trademarks in their campaigns.