Legislation exists to prevent intrusive campaigns and protect the rights of sponsors, and contractors knew of restrictions from the start
The ad-hoc No Marketing Rights Protocol (NMRP) was devised to circumvent impromptu ambush marketing campaigns that would infringe LOCOG’s intellectual property rights and to protect the exclusive publicity rights paid for by Olympic sponsors and licensees. The relevant legislation and the NMRP come as a proportionate response to the increasingly inventive and ultimately intrusive nature of these campaigns. A notable example of such a campaign was when 36 women wearing tight orange dresses promoted a Dutch beer company during the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.
Any rights to use Olympic trade marks were carved out of agreements and were not bargained for by the parties. Suppliers and contractors therefore knew of the restrictions from the outset.
Quite apart from LOCOG’s contractual or statutory rights, sponsors may also have a legal right to enforce the limitation as third-party beneficiaries to these agreements. The parties became official sponsors to obtain the exclusive right to be associated with London 2012 in reliance on the protection offered by relevant legislation and the NMRP.
Contractors and suppliers may still make factual statements about their relationship with the Olympics in pitch documents, annual reports, or client lists (as long as they refrain from over-emphasis or embellishment), and with LOCOG’s written permission, may be able to provide information in relation to the Games in client briefings, conferences or case studies.
Laura Mucha is an associate at Norton Rose