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by Staff GBAF Publications Ltd


By Iona Silverman, Intellectual Property and Media Partner at national law firm Freeths

Summer 2024 is packed with high profile events including the Olympic and Paralympic Games and Euro 2024. Lots of companies will try to associate their brand with these events without being official sponsors. Freeths’ IP & Media team share their top tips so you can benefit from the buzz, without getting stung.

01. Check restrictions on rights specific to the event

The Olympic Committee, UEFA and the All England Lawn Tennis Club all restrict what can be used by companies that aren’t official sponsors. For the Olympics and Paralympics, be aware that using most terms apart from the “Games” is forbidden, including Olympic, Paralympic, Olympian, Paralympian and more, as is use of all logos, mascots, anthems, the Olympic torch and flame. Euro 2024 and Wimbledon have similar restrictions. 

02. Look at local restrictions

If your marketing targets France, French legislation relating to Paris 2024 means you can’t use the Olympic and Paralympic emblems, flag, motto, symbol, anthem, mascot, slogan or posters, or the term Paris 2024. Various buildings are protected under French copyright law. You can use imagery of the Eiffel Tower during the day but not at night because the light display is protected, for example, so check before using images of buildings. 

03. Consider IP rights

All major sporting and cultural events will own trade marks to protect their brand. These can extend beyond the obvious, for instance the term “Paris 2024” is owned by the International Olympic Committee; the purple and green colours use in the Wimbledon logo are owned by the All England Tennis Club; and the Academy of Motion Picture owns rights in the shape of the Oscars award. Additionally, if a consumer is misled into understanding your campaign to mean that your brand is an official sponsor of a given event, you are at risk of a passing off claim.

04. Beware wishing athletes luck or congratulations

The British Olympic Association doesn’t allow sponsor brands to publish messages wishing athletes good luck or congratulating them during the Games period, including on social media. Post these messages outside of the Games period. 

05. Don’t forget advertising standards

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) says that advertising must not be misleading. Avoid suggesting you’re an official sponsor of the Games, Euros, Wimbledon or other event if you’re not. 

06. Consider contractual considerations

Look at the terms and conditions when purchasing tickets. Can the tickets be used as competition prizes? Only official UEFA EURO 2024 commercial partners may use tickets for commercial purposes for example. Are there any dress codes or banned items, for example with prominent branding? A sponsorship contract may only allow reference to be made in one type of media, in television advertising for example, so no references can be made in social media or anywhere else.

07. Remember other regulations

Check street and aerial advertising restrictions if you’re putting up posters or fixed balloons or using drones, planes or hot air balloons. If you’re using an image from an event for a meme, check you have the right to use the image.   

08. Think context 

Use common sense. While many terms and images are forbidden, others carry less risk depending on the context; a TV or poster campaign is likely to face most scrutiny for example.   

09. Assess the risk

The event organisers could ask you to take your ad down. The ASA could ban your ad or require you to pay damages. Know what you’re comfortable with.

10. Check the list

If your ad contains any of the following, check: 

  • a sportsperson
  • a third party logo
  • a third party brand name
  • a third party slogan or catchphrase
  • an official emblem, logo or mascot
  • a team kit
  • a famous building or landmark
  • protected icons.