The Olympic and Paralympic brands are incredibly powerful. They evoke the emotion, excitement and values of the Games.
The London 2012 brand is fundamental to the Games. It is how we identify the Games, how we communicate our ambition, and how we drive excitement and enthusiasm for the Games.
The London 2012 brand is also vital to the funding of the Games and is the London 2012 Organising Committee's most valuable asset. To ensure we maintain both the emotional and commercial value of the brand, we need to carefully control its use and prevent its unauthorised exploitation.
However, the value of the brand can also be enhanced by enabling appropriate access to it. We are therefore allowing wide use of our brand by schools who join our Get Set network, by community groups that are running Inspire projects, and also through initiatives such as London 2012 Open Weekend.
You can help support London 2012 by understanding and respecting the need to protect the brand, and by not using our brand or otherwise creating an association with the Games unless you are entitled to do so.
Brand protection information
Our frequently asked questions provide an overview of why we must protect the brand, what our legal rights are, and what you may and may not do in relation to our brand.
We have also produced a number of documents that provide further guidance.
Frequently asked questions
1. What are the protected Games' Marks?
All of the official names, phrases, trade marks, logos and designs related to the 2012 Games and the Olympic and Paralympic Movements (collectively referred to as the 'Games' Marks') are protected by law in a variety of ways.
The following are some of the current items that make up the Games' Marks:
- The Olympic Symbol
- The Paralympic Symbol
- The London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Emblems
- The London 2012 mascots
- The word 'London 2012'
- The words 'Olympic', 'Olympiad', 'Olympian' (and their plurals and words very similar to them – eg 'Olympix'
- The words 'Paralympic', 'Paralympiad', 'Paralympian' and their plurals and words very similar to them – eg 'Paralympix'
- The Olympic Motto: 'Citius Altius Fortius' / 'Faster Higher Stronger'
- The Paralympic Motto: 'Spirit in Motion'
- The Team GB logo
- The ParalympicsGB logo
- The British Olympic Association logo
- The British Paralympic Association logo
- london2012.com (and various derivatives)
- The London 2012 sports pictograms
View an illustrated overview of the Games' Marks
2. Why is protecting the brand so important?
The London 2012 brand is our most valuable asset and we must protect its value to ensure we can fund the staging of the Games in 2012. But we have also been entrusted with protecting the long-term value of the Olympic and Paralympic brands.
The Olympic symbol is one of the most recognisable and valuable brands in the world, and we have obligations to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to maintain this value and prevent unauthorised exploitation. We also have obligations to protect the Agitos, the symbol of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC).
After our Games in 2012, the Olympic and Paralympic brands will live on and will need to continue to communicate the ethos of the Games. We must therefore carefully manage how the Games’ Marks are used and what the London 2012 brand stands for. In doing so, we hope to preserve the value and meaning of the Olympic and Paralympic brands for generations to come.
We also have a more immediate need and obligation to protect and maintain the current commercial value of the London 2012 brand. The hundreds of millions of pounds necessary to organise and stage the Games is being raised by the London 2012 Organising Committee (LOCOG) from the private sector. In return for investing in the Games, we have promised our sponsors and merchandise licensees exclusive rights to use the London 2012 brand, as well as the Team GB and ParalympicsGB brands, and to associate with the Games.
Therefore, we are obliged to prevent other companies undertaking unauthorised activities that undermine or devalue the exclusive rights we offer our sponsors and licensees.
3. What legal protection does the brand have?
The Games' Marks are legally protected by a combination of registered trademarks, copyright, registered community designs, and common law. In the UK, special laws have also been passed to give extra protection to some of the Games' Marks: the Olympic Symbol etc. (Protection) Act 1995 (OSPA) protects the Olympic and Paralympic symbols, mottos and various words.
Added protection is provided by the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act 2006 (the ‘2006 Act’). This prevents the creation of an unauthorised association between people, goods or services and London 2012.
For more detailed information on these special laws, download our document on statutory marketing rights.
4. Who is allowed to use the Games' Marks?
Official commercial partners, sponsors, suppliers and licensees are allowed to use the Games' Marks in accordance with the terms of their agreements with LOCOG or the IOC. See our current partners.
We have also granted a number of non-commercial partners helping to deliver the Games the right to use our brand. This includes central government departments, the Greater London Authority and boroughs hosting various events for the Games.
The London 2012 Inspire programme gives non-commercial organisations of all sizes an opportunity to apply for use of the London 2012 Inspire mark. This is granted to exceptional projects, events and programmes that are genuinely inspired by the Games. Similarly, programmes such as Open Weekend and the Cultural Olympiad also provide opportunities for non-commercial organisations to get involved in the Games and use our brand.
Finally, schools that become part of the Get Set network are able to use our special education mark to demonstrate their commitment to the Olympic and Paralympic Values.
Our partners and the other organisations granted rights to associate with London 2012 are listed in the statutory register that LOCOG is obliged to maintain in accordance with the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act 2006.
5. Can I use the Games' Marks in my business?
In the UK, the commercial use of any of the Games' Marks (or any other marks or logos that are confusingly similar to or likely to be mistaken for them), is only permitted with the authorisation of LOCOG, which is generally only reserved for official sponsors and licensees.
For example, subject to certain defences and exceptions (see FAQ 9 below), it is unlawful to use the Olympic symbol, the London 2012 logo or the words ‘London 2012’ in the course of trade without LOCOG’s written consent.
This means these marks cannot, for example, be used on goods, in business names, on business papers or in advertising.
It is also unlawful, whether through the use of the Games' Marks or otherwise, to falsely represent any association, affiliation, endorsement, sponsorship or similar relationship with London 2012, the British Olympic and/or Paralympic teams, or any other part of the Olympic and/or Paralympic Movements.
If your business operates outside the UK, you will need to consider the laws in that country. A number of countries have laws similar to those in the UK which place restrictions on the use of Olympic and Paralympic symbols and terminology.
6. What is your approach to enforcing your legal rights?
Our approach to enforcing our legal rights is informed by our obligations to our commercial partners and the IOC and IPC (see FAQ 2 above), but also by our appreciation that the Games are a once-in-a-lifetime event that has prompted enthusiasm, excitement and support from all sections of society. We know that people will express their excitement in a variety of ways and do not want to stifle their enthusiasm. We want people to embrace the Games.
For this reason, our priority is to help people understand what they are allowed to do (see FAQ 8 below) and to prevent infringements of our legal rights by providing effective guidance (see the ‘documents’ tab on the right), working with industry bodies, and asking businesses to support us by refraining from infringing our rights.
Unfortunately, there will inevitably be cases where our legal rights are infringed, and we have obligations to ensure that these are dealt with appropriately.
In particular, we must prevent ambush marketing of the Games. Ambush marketing describes a business’ attempts to attach itself to a major event without paying sponsorship fees. As a result, the business gains the benefits of being associated with the goodwill and public excitement around the event for free. This damages the investment of genuine sponsors, and risks the organiser's ability to fund the event.
Where we are made aware of ambush marketing of the Games and/or other unauthorised uses of the Games' Marks, we must always seek to bring the infringement to an end. We will always assess the seriousness of the infringement and its impact before taking appropriate, measured action according to the gravity of the matter. Some of our considerations include the nature, scale and commercial and reputational impact of the infringement.
We acknowledge that there may be cases where the unauthorised use of our brand is the result of pure enthusiasm for the Games without consideration of commercial benefit or understanding of our legal rights. In such cases, we will factor this into our approach.
Wherever possible, we try to resolve matters with a personal approach, speaking to the business in question directly, explaining why there is a problem and asking that it be rectified. To date, this approach has been successful in virtually all cases. We do, however, review each case individually and we will take concerted cases of ambush marketing very seriously.
In such cases, it may be necessary for us to take more formal legal steps to resolve the issue. This may include seeking an injunction to bring the infringement of our rights to an end and/or claiming financial compensation to rectify the damage. Formal court proceedings will always be a last resort but, where necessary, LOCOG will take legal action to resolve the matter.
7. What are you doing about counterfeit merchandise?
The production and sale of counterfeit merchandise is a criminal offence. We are therefore working closely with the relevant authorities to tackle the problem and have established the London 2012 Intellectual Property Crime Group for this purpose.
This Group includes representatives from the Metropolitan Police, Serious Organised Crime Agency, the UK Border Agency, HM Customs & Excise, Trading Standards, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and LOCOG’s commercial partners. We work with this Group to take preventative measures against counterfeiting and support the authorities in bringing prosecutions where appropriate.
We have also ensured that official London 2012 merchandise is easily identifiable and distinguishable from counterfeit products through the use of hologram technology on our swing tags, and through other industry best practice.
We ask for you to support us by only purchasing genuine London 2012 products (look out for the London 2012 hologram which flickers between the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic emblems). Please also report any goods you think may be infringing by emailing us at email@example.com
8. What can a non-London 2012 sponsor do to show its support for the Games?
We want everyone to get excited about and engage with the Games, and it is possible for business people, like anyone else, to do this – the key thing is to ensure it is done in a way that does not promote their business in association with the Games.
So, for example, we encourage spontaneous displays of patriotism – whether by someone flying a flag at home, from their car, in their office or in their shop or business premises. We hope that this will add to the atmosphere of the Games and we have always been proud of the fact that every visiting nation will have ‘home’ support in London.
Similarly, we will of course have no objection to things such as office parties being held to celebrate the Games, or to businesses putting notices on their intranet or notice boards to let staff know that they're showing a race/match/event on TV.
Providing information about the Games to clients is also unlikely to be problematic provided it is done in a non-promotional manner and Games' logos and designs are not used (for details, see our guidelines for the tourism sector).
The reason things of this nature are generally OK is because they are not promotional. On the other hand, concerted marketing campaigns or promotional events framed around the Games are likely to create an association between the business in question and the Games, and may well therefore infringe our legal rights.
Finally, retail businesses can support the Games by stocking official London 2012 merchandise. If you are interested in this please Retail Enquires at firstname.lastname@example.org
9. Are there any exceptions to the rules that prohibit use of Games’ Marks?
There are very few instances where the Games' Marks can be used without our consent. The words protected by the Olympic Symbol etc. (Protection) Act 1995 may, however, be used in editorial news pieces without our authorisation, and journalists are able to use our emblem etc to illustrate an editorial piece about the Games.
This exception does not, however, apply to businesses that produce newsletters, client bulletins or other marketing collateral.
Another exception applies to businesses that have traded under an ‘Olympic’ name for many years (pre 1995). This exception allows them to continue to trade under that name in the same manner that they have always done since prior to 1995.
There are a few other defences under the Olympic Symbol etc. (Protection) Act 1995 and the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act 2006. Further details of these are given in our document on statutory marketing rights.
In you are unsure whether you are able to use a Games' Mark, please read the more detailed documents providing information on brand protection and our legal rights. These are available to download under the ‘documents’ tab on the right. If you are still unsure having read this information, we would recommend that you seek independent legal advice.
10. Can I submit an advert to get confirmation that it does not infringe your legal rights?
LOCOG cannot review adverts and other marketing material. We hope the information provided on these web pages and in the documents listed on the right will help you assess whether the marketing material you are proposing will infringe our rights or not. If you feel that you require further guidance, we recommend that you seek independent legal advice or contact an industry body that may be able to advise you.
11. If I win a contract in relation to the Games, can I promote this?
We want suppliers who have won contracts relating to the Games to be proud of the contribution they are making and to benefit from the experience and kudos gained from this. Suppliers may therefore mention the work they undertake in relation to the Games in client lists and pitch documents, for example, and in some other situations with the permission of LOCOG. However, we must ensure that suppliers do not promote their involvement in the Games in a way that undermines the exclusive rights of London 2012 sponsors.
Suppliers are therefore restricted contractually from marketing, advertising or undertaking other PR activities around their work on the Games. Full guidelines of what suppliers may and may not say about their work on the Games is set out in our suppliers no marketing rights protocol.
12. Can I create a link from my website to the London 2012 website?
Yes, you may create your own link to London2012.com, provided that your link is in a text-only format. The use of our logo or any other Olympic Marks as a link to our site is not permitted.
13. Can I use the Games' Marks in my school project?
We encourage all schools and students to get excited about and involved in the Games. The Games' Marks can be used by pupils and students in their class room activities. The only thing we ask is that you do not use the Games Marks in any commercial way. So, if you are doing a business studies project that involves creating and actually marketing/selling a product (whether to your fellow students or to the public) do not use the Games’ Marks on the product or for promotional purposes.
Get more information on Games-related activities for schools and how to join our Get Set network.
14. Can I use images or footage of previous Olympic and Paralympic Games?
Images and footage of previous Games may only be used with special permission. Unless you are a London 2012 sponsor, licensee, or you are seeking use for non-commercial or journalistic purposes, you are unlikely to be authorised to use images or footage from the Games.
15. Can I use images of athletes in my advert and state that they are an Olympian or Paralympian?
You may use images of athletes provided the images were not taken at the Olympic or Paralympic Games, and the use of the image in the advert does not suggest the product advertised has an association with the Games. You may also make an appropriate factual statement that the athlete is an Olympian or Paralympian, provided this is done in a proportionate manner and the focus is on the athlete rather than their status as an Olympian or Paralympian.
Remember to get the permission of the athlete(s) shown in the image and the permission of the copyright owner. Please note, however, that the Olympic Charter and the International Paralympic Committee Handbook contain provisions that prohibit competitors being featured in adverts during the period of the Games.
16. Can I register a company name that includes the words 'Olympic' or 'London 2012'?
No. As outlined above, these are extremely valuable assets and, as such, LOCOG must ensure they are only used by official partners, sponsors, suppliers and licensees. Additionally, including these words in a company’s name could lead the public to wrongly believe that the company is in some way connected to London 2012 or to the Olympic or Paralympic Movements in general.
17. Can I register a domain name using the Games' Marks?
As outlined above, use of the Games' Marks must be protected in order to preserve their value, and therefore businesses cannot use the Games' Marks in domain names to create an association with the Games. If you are not a business and you think you have a legitimate reason for using a Games' Mark within a domain name, please contact us via email at email@example.com
18. What restrictions are there on advertising and trading around Games venues?
Special regulations will control advertising and trading in open spaces around our venues during the Games. They will make it unlawful to trade or advertise in defined ‘Event Zones’ unless you are authorised by us or benefit from one of the exceptions. Full details of the regulations, including details of where and when the regulations apply, the exceptions, and the criteria and process for applying for authorisation are available at www.london2012.com/paralympics/business/advertising-and-tradingregulations/