It’s No Game: Local Businesses Warned Games are not for Play
Legal firm Miller Hendry have today issued a stark warning to Tayside businesses to beware of the pitfalls of jumping on the Commonwealth Games marketing bandwagon.
“From 23rd July until 3rd August we expect to see many businesses and organisations attempting to take advantage of the incredible hype surrounding the Commonwealth Games by running Games related promotions, advertising campaigns and events. But, before they do, they need to make sure they are fully aware of what is, and what is not, permitted to ensure they are not exposing themselves to serious commercial risk.”
Use of the Commonwealth Games brand is strictly controlled by the Commonwealth Games Federation and Miller Hendry have issued a stark warning to local businesses wishing to associate themselves with the Games, and that they should first take time to make themselves aware of the restrictions on what they can and cannot do.
Use of the Games symbol and all of the official branding associated with the Games, including certain words, phrases and mottoes, is regulated by law. Such words include – perhaps surprisingly - generic terms such as 2014, Gold, Silver, Bronze and even Glasgow!
However, before you feel compelled to rush out and change the name of your business from Glasgow Gold or Bronze 2014, there are exceptions to the rules which applies only to businesses that have traded from before January 2010, using a name or other representation that may create an association with the Games.
Use of the brand and associated terms is also further protected by The Glasgow Commonwealth Games Act 2008 (Games Association Right) Order 2009 which forges additional protection by introducing the offence of creating an unauthorised commercial association between people, goods or services and the Games.
It is therefore unlawful to use the Commonwealth Games symbol or any of the official branding in the course of trade or for any commercial purposes could find themselves on the receiving end of a not-so-celebratory court writ.
“With the exception of official sponsors, businesses and organisations certainly cannot use any of the official branding on any advertising or promotional material or on any of their products, but they also can’t use any key terms – many of which are broad and fairly general. It is also unlawful to falsely represent any association or affiliation with the Commonwealth Games.
“This poses a significant commercial risk to small businesses wishing to run Commonwealth Games themed promotions during the events and the Organising Committee have already confirmed they intend to enforce their rights to protect their big name sponsors. Scottish businesses who may have ‘chanced’ it during the 2012 Olympics will find the policing of the Commonwealth Games branding right on their doorstep this year.
However, unlike the Olympics, the Commonwealth Games’ regulations are not quite as clearly defined, creating the potential for confusion and, legally speaking, open to interpretation.
“An example of this is where the Olympics made a very clear provision for small businesses, like pubs, bars, lounges and hotels who were screening the events live on TV as an ‘event’. For the Olympics they had clear guidelines and official posters which could be downloaded to promote the events. For the Commonwealth Games, there is no provision for this type of activity, which largely implies that anyone writing “See the Commonwealth Games Live Here” on a poster and popping it outside their local, may be getting themselves into potentially murky legal waters.”
“For businesses close to the Games Venues even more regulations have been put in place to regulate advertising and trading in the area, although they have a very clear direction on what they can and cannot do. Outwith these ‘zones’, you are largely on your own, attempting to interpret a minefield of regulations and legislative documents.
So with all these restrictions, what can local businesses do to make the most of the Games?
“Businesses and organisations are entitled to show support and enthusiasm for the Games so long as this is done in a way which does not associate promotion of the business or organisation with the Games”
“For example businesses can display flags or national colours to show support for home or visiting nations, or holding an office party to celebrate the Games. If you are in doubt as to whether your advertising, display or event is in breach of the regulations we would suggest that you seek further legal advice.”
For those who may have already fallen foul of the legislation, inadvertently or not, he issued the following advice:
“Withdraw the relevant material or products immediately. So far, the Organising Committee’s general approach to unauthorised use of the brand has been to approach the business or organisation in question and request them to rectify the problem. If you are approached by an official, and asked to remove Games related advertising or products, or to cancel a Games related event, we would suggest that you do so and apologise unreservedly for the error.”
“If you refuse, organisers may take legal steps to protect their rights and this could result in a financial penalty for your business or organisation. If you feel that you are not in breach of the regulations we would still recommend that you comply with their request in the first instance and seek further legal advice.”
NOTES TO EDITORS
Details of the brand elements that are protected are available online here: https://www.glasgow2014.com/
Information about associating your business with the Games can be found online here: https://www.glasgow2014.com/
Information about advertising and trading regulations during the Games can be found online here: https://www.glasgow2014.com/