book a virtual meeting Search Search
brisbane

level 16, 324 queen st,
brisbane qld 4000
+61 7 3235 0400

dandenong

40-42 scott st,
dandenong vic 3175
+61 3 9794 2600

melbourne

level 7, 600 bourke st,
melbourne vic 3000
+61 3 8615 9900

sydney

level 21, 20 bond st,
sydney nsw 2000
+61 2 8298 9533

hello. we’re glad you’re
getting in touch.

Fill in form below, or simply call us on 1800 888 966

The Olympic Games have been a seminal event in the sporting world, with the immediately recognisable branding having been developed since the first modern Olympics in Athens in 1896 (inspired by the ancient Olympic Games in the 8th century BC).  The iconic Olympic rings symbol itself was created in 1913.

With the Beijing Winter Olympics underway, we look at how the Olympics protects its intellectual property (IP) in Australia.

historical protection

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has protected its City and Year word marks since 1993, before Sydney was elected to host the 2000 Olympic Games. A third party filed trade marks in multiple countries for all names of the candidate countries and threatened the IOC with legal action.  This led to the IOC taking steps to protect the City and Year identifiers well before selection of a host city.  Ordinarily, a trade mark consisting of a city and year would not be sufficiently distinctive, however many international trade mark offices accept that in the case of the Olympics, distinctiveness is acquired once the host city is announced due to the worldwide interest and media coverage of that selection.

In addition to trade mark registrations, many countries are party to the Nairobi Treaty on the Protection of the Olympic Symbol (1981) which obliges those countries to protect the Olympic symbol.

olympic legislation in australia

The Olympic insignia and certain Olympic expressions are protected in Australia by the Olympic Insignia Protection Act 1987 (Act), which has provisions for copyright, designs and trade marks.

The Act prescribes that the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) owns the copyright and design rights in the below Olympic symbol.

Olympic rings

The AOC also has a monopoly over the protected ring design, which is infringed if a person without the AOC’s licence applies the design (or registered torch and flame design) to any fraudulent or obvious imitation, imports into Australia for sale or sells any article to which the design has been applied.

Trade marks cannot be registered in Australia where they contain or consist of the following marks (or closely resembling marks): the Olympic motto; the Olympic symbol; prescribed artistic works of an Olympic torch and flame; or artistic works where a design is registered under the Act.

The Act has many more requirements relating to the use and protection of Olympic symbols and words.

olympic registrations in australia

Beijing Winter Olympics

The IOC has registered the below trade marks in Australia in anticipation of the Beijing Winter Olympics:

Beijing winter olympic logos

Sydney Olympics

The AOC also has its own trade marks and designs registered, including the below Sydney Olympics paraphernalia:

sydney olympic trade marks

Brisbane Olympics

Since the 2032 Olympics will be held in Queensland, the AOC has applied to register a series of trade marks for a wide range of goods and services, including:

  • QUEENSLAND 2032
  • BRISBANE 2032
  • QUEENSLAND 2032 OLYMPIC GAMES
  • BRISBANE 2032 OLYMPIC GAMES
  • GREEN AND GOLD DAY

gold standard IP protection

The Olympics leads the way in ensuring it has strong protection of its IP rights, however many brands would benefit from adopting the same strategy in using registration as the primary method to protect valuable IP.

If you think your branding protection could be stronger, the IP team at Macpherson Kelley can assist in reviewing and advising on the best strategy for IP protection.

stay up to date with our news & insights

gold medal IP protection: how the olympics protects its intellectual property

15 February 2022
emma berry

The Olympic Games have been a seminal event in the sporting world, with the immediately recognisable branding having been developed since the first modern Olympics in Athens in 1896 (inspired by the ancient Olympic Games in the 8th century BC).  The iconic Olympic rings symbol itself was created in 1913.

With the Beijing Winter Olympics underway, we look at how the Olympics protects its intellectual property (IP) in Australia.

historical protection

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has protected its City and Year word marks since 1993, before Sydney was elected to host the 2000 Olympic Games. A third party filed trade marks in multiple countries for all names of the candidate countries and threatened the IOC with legal action.  This led to the IOC taking steps to protect the City and Year identifiers well before selection of a host city.  Ordinarily, a trade mark consisting of a city and year would not be sufficiently distinctive, however many international trade mark offices accept that in the case of the Olympics, distinctiveness is acquired once the host city is announced due to the worldwide interest and media coverage of that selection.

In addition to trade mark registrations, many countries are party to the Nairobi Treaty on the Protection of the Olympic Symbol (1981) which obliges those countries to protect the Olympic symbol.

olympic legislation in australia

The Olympic insignia and certain Olympic expressions are protected in Australia by the Olympic Insignia Protection Act 1987 (Act), which has provisions for copyright, designs and trade marks.

The Act prescribes that the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) owns the copyright and design rights in the below Olympic symbol.

Olympic rings

The AOC also has a monopoly over the protected ring design, which is infringed if a person without the AOC’s licence applies the design (or registered torch and flame design) to any fraudulent or obvious imitation, imports into Australia for sale or sells any article to which the design has been applied.

Trade marks cannot be registered in Australia where they contain or consist of the following marks (or closely resembling marks): the Olympic motto; the Olympic symbol; prescribed artistic works of an Olympic torch and flame; or artistic works where a design is registered under the Act.

The Act has many more requirements relating to the use and protection of Olympic symbols and words.

olympic registrations in australia

Beijing Winter Olympics

The IOC has registered the below trade marks in Australia in anticipation of the Beijing Winter Olympics:

Beijing winter olympic logos

Sydney Olympics

The AOC also has its own trade marks and designs registered, including the below Sydney Olympics paraphernalia:

sydney olympic trade marks

Brisbane Olympics

Since the 2032 Olympics will be held in Queensland, the AOC has applied to register a series of trade marks for a wide range of goods and services, including:

  • QUEENSLAND 2032
  • BRISBANE 2032
  • QUEENSLAND 2032 OLYMPIC GAMES
  • BRISBANE 2032 OLYMPIC GAMES
  • GREEN AND GOLD DAY

gold standard IP protection

The Olympics leads the way in ensuring it has strong protection of its IP rights, however many brands would benefit from adopting the same strategy in using registration as the primary method to protect valuable IP.

If you think your branding protection could be stronger, the IP team at Macpherson Kelley can assist in reviewing and advising on the best strategy for IP protection.