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Only a few days left now!

On 26 July 2024, the Paris Olympic and Paralympic Games will get underway, running until next 10 September, with the closing ceremony of the Paralympic Games period.

Worldwide event, this 2024 vintage edition will captivate almost 5 billion television viewers and 10 million on-site visitors, around 15’000 Olympic and Paralympic athletes, for a budget of nearly 5 billion Euros financed at 97% by private funds and, for a third, by the sale of merchandising products (such as the Paris 2024 Olympics Plush Mascot or the Paris 2024 Olympics Mascot Keyring).

Each of us has enthusiastically followed the progress of the preparations for this imminent event over the past months!

In Paris particularly, the National Assembly, the Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower are all ready to welcome the event: The Iron Lady proudly displays the Olympic Rings, the Arc de Triomphe the Agitos and the Palais Bourbon the six Venuses de Milo by artist Laurent Perbos, each evoking an Olympic and Paralympic Games’ discipline (tennis, surfing, basketball, para-archery, boxing and javelin).

Various advertising campaigns and animations in tribute to these Games have been running for months.


Some leaves no doubt as to the legitimacy of their organization, being orchestrated either by the host city, by official or licensed partners, contractually authorized, while others are more questionable, even illegitimate.


I – Authorized uses by statutes

1.1.        The host city, the partners and sponsors of the Paris 2024 Games (Worldwide Olympic and Paralympic Partners / Premium Partners / Official Partners / Official Supporters) benefit, in return for their financial assistance in and material contributions to the organization of the games, from more or less extensive rights over the Olympic Properties, including the exclusive right to use the Olympic Properties for promotional and advertising purposes.

The Jeux Poétiques de Paris (unregistered trademark), for example, do not raise any particular difficulty, being organized by the city of Paris: https://www.paris.fr/evenements/les-jeux-poetiques-de-paris-55463.

The various events organized by official partners and supporters of the 2024 vintage do not raise difficulties either, since depending on their status, they have marketing rights and the right to use the Olympic symbols, if necessary in association with their brands, to a greater or lesser extent depending on their contract.

As "Official Supporter" of the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games, Saint-Gobain, the world leader in sustainable construction for the housing and industrial markets, is allowed, during the Olympic Games period, to use the Olympic symbols in its communications around the games, in compliance with the provisions of the partnership contracts concluded, and in particular use the wording "The #Paris2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games bring #SaintGobain teams together around sport!" in connection with the Saint-Gobain Foot 5 Challenge launched worldwide last January, or the hashtags #ViserPlusHaut, #JeuxOlympiques, #JOP2024 in association with the Saint-Gobain Foot 5 Challenge. " in connection with the Saint-Gobain Foot 5 Challenge launched worldwide last January, or the hashtags #ViserPlusHaut #JeuxOlympiques #JOP2024 in association with the Saint-Gobain Skate Game scheduled from July 18 to August 11, 2024 at the Esplanade de La Défense - Bassin Takis, right next to our Parisian office.

1.2.        Paris 2024 Games’ Licensees benefit from these same rights of use within the limit of their contractual provisions.

No less than 30’000 marketing products related to the games are estimated to be sold, according to Edouard Bardon, the Paris 2024 Licensing Director.


II - Questionable or even illegitimate uses fall under an extraordinary protection regime

2.1. The challenges in terms of images and revenue are up to the event’s level itself, and for once, the law puts itself at the tuning fork.

Article 7 of the Olympic Charter, which is the unifying text that codifies the fundamental principles of Olympism and the implementing rules and texts adopted by the International Olympic Committee, stipulates that the Olympic Properties, understood as "the symbol, flag, motto, anthem, identifications (including, but not limited to "Olympic Games" and "Games of the Olympiad"), designations, emblems, the Olympic flame and torches, as well as any musical or audiovisual work, creative works or artefacts commissioned in connection with the Olympic Games by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the National Olympic Committees (NOCs) and/or the Organizing Committees for the Olympic Games (OCOGs)", as well as the rights of use relating thereto, including for profit-making, commercial or advertising purposes, are the exclusive property of the IOC.

However, during the Olympiad period, namely, since January 1, 2019 and until December 31, 2024 in the case of the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games, their management and defense are the responsibility, on French territory, of the COJOP Paris 2024, which takes all measures to obtain, on behalf of the IOC, the protection of the Olympic Properties, and to prohibit any use of the Olympic Properties that would be contrary to the Olympic Charter and its implementing texts.

This defense is carried out at two levels.

  • On the one hand, classically, by the intellectual property law, particularly the usual provisions of the trademark law (art. L713-2 CPI and L713-3 of the French Intellectual Property Code), recognition of the status of well-known trademark (art. L713-5 of the French Intellectual Property Code) and by other relevant provisions of the design law or copyright law;
  • On the other hand, by the provisions of the French Sports Code, in particular articles L141-5 (for the Olympic Games) and L141-7 (for the Paralympic Games), under which:

The French National Olympic and Sports Committee (CNOSF) and the French Paralympic and Sports Committee (CPSF) are respectively:

  • Owners of the national Olympic and Paralympic emblems, and
  • Depositaries of (1) the Olympic/Paralympic emblems, flag, motto and symbol; (2) the Olympic/Paralympic anthem; (3) the Olympic/Paralympic logo, mascot, slogan and posters; (4) the Olympic/Paralympic "city + year" editions; (5) the terms "Olympic/Paralympic Games", "Olympism", "Paralympism", "Olympiad", "Paralympiad" and the acronym "JO" or "JP"; (6) the terms "Olympic", "Olympian" and "Olympienne", except in common language for normal use excluding any use of any of them for promotional or commercial purposes or any risk of causing confusion in the mind of the public with the Olympic movement.

The act, between January 1, 2019 and December 31, 2024, of registering as a trademark, reproducing, imitating, affixing, deleting or modifying the elements and terms mentioned in the preceding paragraph or their translations, without the authorization of the COJOP, is punishable by the penalties set out in Articles L. 716-9 to L. 716-13 of the French Intellectual Property Code, namely up to 4 years of imprisonment and a fine of 400,000 Euros.

In other words, whether or not they are protected by an industrial property title (trademark, designs and models), the Olympic and Paralympic Properties are protected by a special and extraordinary protection regime, autonomous and enforceable against all.

  • Neither a likelihood of confusion nor an unjustified exploitation is required for the application of this special protection regime. All that matters is the identity or similarity of the signs.
  • Regardless of whether the prior sign is used or vulnerable to a lapse action for non-use, these special provisions apply.
  • There are neither any need to assess the originality or personality of the author.
  • Similarly, the exception of extinction of rights due to acquiescence would not apply.

So, all in all, an extreme vigilance is required when using the Olympic and Paralympic Properties, as the use of Olympic/Paralympic symbols is highly regulated by a special, extraordinary protection regime!

The organizers of the Olympic and Paralympic Games regularly and fervently defend any use or imitation of the Olympic Properties that they consider to infringe the intellectual property rights attached to them.

2.2. To date, the Paris 2024 Organizing Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games (COJOP Paris 2024) has sent nearly a thousand of cease and desist letters, followed by objections, oppositions before the INPI or the EUIPO, or legal actions.

In June, the Dunkerque-based sport outfitter supplier to local sports clubs, Les Olympiades (https://www.les-olympiades.fr/), incorporated in 2016, was ordered by the COJOP Paris 2024 to change its corporate name and logo.

If the late nature of this claim may be questionable, its legitimacy in terms of the applicable texts and the elements of the Olympic Properties included, has enabled the COJOP Paris 2024 to reach an agreement with this company, which has 8 months from the signing of the agreement to change its name and logo. An “idea box” has been launched by its owner via its Facebook account last June 18.

Beyond this case, the efforts to defend Olympic Properties are not confined to the field of sport, albeit in sometimes questionable ways. In 2012, for example, the American Olympic Committee (USOC) ordered the social network for knitting fans Ravelry.com to abandon a knitting competition launched under the name "Ravelympics" just a few days before the opening of the 2012 London Games. The USOC's response was deemed cavalier, however, and led to an apology to the social network's members.

Let’s take a fictive example

Fictive creation by the author using the Canva® online design and publishing tool and our in-house AI tool.

Here, the name of the collection "J24" (which can equally refer to a countdown or to the 2024 Games), the explicit choice of the colors of the French flag, host country, mentions in the publication's description “Éblouissez avec l'éclat des champions” (meaning "Dazzle with the radiance of champions") associated with a medal, and « Découvrez notre nouvelle collection de bijoux inspirée par l'esprit et l'élégance des Jeux Olympiques. Portez un peu de l'héritage olympique et laissez votre style raconter une histoire de victoire et de rêves réalisés » (meaning "Discover our new jewelry collection inspired by the spirit and elegance of the Olympic Games. Wear a bit of the Olympic heritage and let your style tells a story of victory and dreams realized") and finally the use of the hashtag #J24, #Bijouxdechampions, #Espritolympique would, in our opinion, most certainly lead (unless prior authorization is obtained, of course) to a condemnation of the publisher of this publication and creator of this jewelry collection, on a triple basis:

  • Infringement of the French trademark JEUX 2024 No. 4525102 through the use of the collection name J24 and the hastag #J24.
  • Infringement of the provisions of the French Sports Code, as the term "Olympic", even when used in its generic sense in the description of these publications, is nonetheless used for promotional or commercial purposes.
  • Parasitic acts, since the various choices made (name of the "J24" collection, colors of the publication, in addition to the constant presence of the word "Olympic" in the description of the publications) would a fortiori constitute ambush marketing, due to the association of the image operated by the brand in question with the Olympic Games, without any compensation to the COJOP Paris 2024 in return.

This "J24" collection, even when presented on social networks and during a short period of time, can result in fairly heavy penalties.

Such a collection recalls a case brought before the Tribunal de Grande Instance of Paris in 2014, when, less than 3 months before the 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic Games, 50 pairs of Le Coq Sportif brand sneakers were put on sale, the soles of which featured the Olympic colors in the same order, although not in the form of rings. These sneakers, associated with the name of sports athlete Joaquim Noah, led to Le Coq Sportif International BV company being ordered to indemnify the CNOSF of the sum of €100,000 in respect of actual economic loss and image damage to official partners (TGI de Paris, 3rd chamber, June 13, 2014).

In addition, the CIC and SIXT company have respectively been ordered in 2018 to pay the relevant CNOSF the sums of €10,000 and €20,000 due to the publication on their respective Twitter and Facebook social networks of only two publications featuring Olympic Properties : "En route pour les JO d'hiver #Pyeongchang2018" (meaning “On the road to the #Pyeongchang2018" winter Olympic games) as well as an old publication during the Rio 2016 Games, including the phrase "Si tu vas à Rio..." (“If you are going to…” associated with the visual of a flame in the colors of Brazil, in the case of the CIC; "C'est parti pour les jeux olympiques #jeuxolympiques #JO2018" (“Here we go for the Olympic Games #olympicgames #JO2018“) as part of a game inviting Internet users to nominate the athletes they wanted to see win for the company SIXT.

In conclusion, the Olympic and Paralympic Games are far from being a land of freedom, and we understand that the financial stakes have succeeded in imposing a "distortion" of the law. Everyone will be free to think whether this is - or is not - balanced, but in any case, the greatest caution is called for.

Our team will be happy to advise you on all your projects and communications, and we hope you enjoy your games!


Sources :

Francetvinfo.fr - 01/06/2024 - Nord : Les organisateurs des Jeux olympiques exigent qu'une petite entreprise nommée "Les Olympiades" change de nom : https://www.francetvinfo.fr/les-jeux-olympiques/nord-les-organisateurs-des-jeux-olympiques-exige-a-une-petite-entreprise-nommee-les-olympiades-de-changer-de-nom_6597708.html

BFM Littoral - 19/06/2024 - Nord : Obligé de changer de nom, l’entreprise olympiades trouve un accord avec Paris 2024 : https://www.bfmtv.com/grand-littoral/socx-obligee-de-changer-de-nom-l-entreprise-olympiades-trouve-un-accord-avec-paris-2024_AV-202406190333.html

Huffingtonpost.fr - 01/06/2024 - Jeux Olympiques 2024 : les marques déposées des JO vont plus loin que vous ne l’imaginez


Ouest-France.fr - Paralympiques 2024. Les logos installés sur l’arc de Triomphe : https://www.ouest-france.fr/jeux-olympiques/paralympiques-2024-les-logos-installes-sur-larc-de-triomphe-fe9279c4-3537-11ef-beb3-b5dffeb610b0

Lsa-conso.fr – 18/04/2024 - Les produits aux couleurs de Paris 2024 envahissent les rayons : https://www.lsa-conso.fr/les-produits-aux-couleurs-de-paris-2024-envahissent-les-rayons,455149

Npr.org – 21/06/2012 – After Knitters Get In A Twist, USOC Apologizes For “Cease and Desist” Letter: https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2012/06/21/155508908/after-knitters-get-in-a-twist-usoc-apologizes-for-cease-and-desist-letter

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