The International Olympic Committee has publicized several rules to prevent behaviors that exploit the event by companies that are not official sponsors (known internationally as Ambush Marketing).

Among these guidelines, it is worth highlighting rule #40 in the Olympic Charter, which institutes a rule for athletes, coaches and other official personnel. It prohibits the exploitation of their picture, name, or athletic performance for advertising purposes during the Olympic Games.

Also, the advertising activities of the athletes' sponsors is being regulated, prohibiting the launch of a new campaign during the Games. Regarding the ad campaigns that are already underway, they may continue to be aired as long as they do not give off the impression that they are official Olympic sponsors. In addition, the latter requires the approval of the National or International Olympic Committee.

Additionally, rule #50 of the Olympic Charter prohibits advertisements or publicity inside, above, or in the immediate surroundings of the stadiums and other installations, regardless of whether it is related to business, politics, religion, or of racial origin. These may not be used on billboards, directly on people or articles of clothing, or equipment used by competitors, team officials, or other participants in the Olympic Games.

On the other hand, companies should take into account that expressions related to this sporting event such as Olympic Games, Olympic, Olympian, or Rio 2016, among others, are copyrighted under law. Their use in advertising can constitute an act of brand violation or unfair competition. With the purpose of avoiding any risk by association, the International Olympic Committee recommends that companies who are not official sponsors include a phrase that expressly indicates that the company whose products are mentioned in this ad campaign is not an official sponsor in Rio 2016.

Even so, the use of any Olympic Games or Rio 2016 logo for publishing or press purposes is allowed as long as there is no commercial association made with the Olympic brand.

Finally, regarding radio and television, it is not permitted to use advertising before, during or after the broadcasting of Olympic material, as this could cause a risk by association between the company and the Olympic Games.

These rules are general guidelines that each company needs to analyze carefully in regards to their advertising plans. Hopefully, that will avoid lawsuits or claims for possible infractions of the intellectual property of the Olympic Games.

Originally published July 18, 2016

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