Shortly after Rio de Janeiro was selected to host the 2016 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games, the Congress passed The Olympic Act (Law 12,035/09 of October 1, 2009). The Act contains a number of special rules required for the carrying out of the Olympic Games, among them specific provisions designed to protect the official symbols and curb ambush marketing during the events.
Under Article 6, federal authorities are responsible for monitoring, investigating and suppressing any unlawful acts that violate the rights in the Olympic symbols in connection with the Rio 2016 Games. The Act broadly defines the symbols as:
• all graphically distinctive signs, flags, mottos, emblems and anthems used by the International Olympic Committee (IOC);
• the names “Olympic Games,” “Paralympic Games,” “Rio 2016 Olympic Games,” “Rio 2016 Paralympic Games,” “XXXI Olympic Games,” “Rio 2016,” “Rio Olympics,” “Rio 2016 Olympics,” “Rio Paralympics,” “Rio 2016 Paralympics” and other abbreviations and variations, and also those equally relevant that may be created for the same purposes, in any language, including those in connection with websites;
• the name, emblem, flag, anthem, motto and trademarks and other symbols of the Rio 2016 Organizing Committee; and
• the mascots, trademarks, torches and other symbols in connection with the XXXI Olympic Games, Rio 2016 Olympic Games and Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.
Further, the Act expressly dictates that unless previously and expressly authorized by the Rio 2016 Games Organizing Committee or the IOC, the use of any symbols in connection with the Rio 2016 Games, whether or not for commercial use, is forbidden.
Also, the Act takes aim at ambush marketing practices in Article 8, where the above prohibition is enlarged to also cover the use of terms and expressions that, albeit outside the list of symbols mentioned in this law, are “sufficiently similar to them to the extent that they are able to invoke an undue association of any products and services whatsoever, or even any company, transaction or event, with the Rio 2016 Games or Olympic Movement.”
The Act complements the already-existing rules of other statutes and treaties, which can be used to protect the Olympic symbols and curb ambush marketing. These include the following:
• the Nairobi Treaty for the protection of the Olympic symbol;
• the Brazilian Industrial Property Law (Law 9,279/96), which prohibits the registration as marks of names, prizes or symbols of official sporting events, as well as imitations likely to cause confusion, except when authorized by the competent authority or entity promoting the event;
• the Pelé Law (Law 9,615/98), a provision of which grants the Brazilian Olympic Committee exclusive rights in relation to the flags, mottos, anthems and Olympic symbols, as well as to the names “jogos olímpicos,” “olimpíadas,” “jogos paraolímpicos” and “paraolimpíadas”;
• the copyright protection afforded to symbols, designs and mascots, as well as any other works;
• the protection afforded to the name and image (likeness) of athletes by the Brazilian Civil Code, as well as the Pelé Law;
• rules against unfair competition provided in international agreements such as the Paris Convention and the TRIPS Agreement and in the Brazilian Industrial Property Law;
• rules against unjust enrichment provided in the Brazilian Civil Code; and
• specific rules against ambush marketing provided by the Code of Ethics of CONAR (Conselho Nacional de Auto-Regulamentação Publicitária, the National Advertising Self-Regulating Council), a private entity created in 1980 by local advertisers, advertising agencies and media companies.
Similar legislation that will apply to the soccer World Cup 2014 in Brazil is under consideration in the Brazilian Senate.
Although every effort has been made to verify the accuracy of items carried in the INTA Bulletin, readers are urged to check independently on matters of specific concern or interest.
© 2010 International Trademark Association