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Tuesday, August 7, 2012
by Richard Bingler
Sausage rings in the shape of the Olympic symbol are not allowed. That’s right. A butcher in Dorset, a county in southwestern England was forced to remove said “offending” rings in the shop’s window. Just as a florist in Stoke-on-Trent, a city in the West Midlands of England, was forced to take down an “offending” floral display of the Olympic rings in that shop’s window. Why? The Olympics are underway, and the “Olympic cops” have been set loose to sniff out trademark violations all over the empire.
Actually, they’re called the London Organising Committee on the Olympic and Paralympic Games, and British law—the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act of 2006—is behind their every sniff. Under that law, the government granted the organizers/cops quite a bit of trademark muscle. There are, for example, two word lists—“List A” and “List B”—that you can be punished for violating if your business or charity merely combines a word (such as “summer”) from the one list with a word (such as “games”) from the other list.
And it gets better: the Olympic cops even warn people that they could create an “unwarranted association” (whatever that means) without using forbidden words from those lists. Am I the only one thinking of paging George Orwell?
Now, you might be thinking that civil damages would be the remedy for violations of the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act of 2006. You would be wrong. That act gives the Olympic cops the power to enter land or premises and to “remove, destroy, conceal or erase any infringing article.” Erase? Are you picturing what I am? Bobbies going around armed with touristy erasers shaped like Big Ben.
It’s not that I’m trying to scare you off attending the 2012 Olympics (notice that I carefully avoided using the forbidden combination of words “s****r” and “g***s” in that sentence). It’s more a matter of me warning you of what to expect if you go. And if you want to fit in there, the way to do it is pretty simple. I can state it in one sentence: wear your Adidas™ shoes when ordering a Big Mac™ and Coke™, and pay for them with your VISA™ card. The British will love ya. Maybe even give you one of those Big Ben erasers as a souvenir.
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