Legal expert slams Government’s Olympic ad crackdown

The anticipated marketing windfall from the 2012 Olympics in London could fail to materialise if Government plans to crack down on guerrilla marketing are pushed through, according to an expert on marketing law.

Nick Johnson, a partner at law firm Osborne Clarke, says the Olympics Bill, which is due to go to committee stage in October, would “substantially curtail advertisers’ freedom of speech”.

The bill will effectively prevent advertisers making any reference to the London 2012 Olympics. Certain combinations of words would be an infringement if used in ads.

Under the proposed legislation, businesses will be at risk if they use the words “games” or “2012 with “gold”, “silver”, “bronze”, “London”, “medals”, “sponsor” or “summer”.

A further problem, says Johnson, will be created if the International Olympic Committee succeeds with its application to register the number 2012 as a trademark in relation to a wide range of goods and services.

He says: “While everybody quite rightly expects sponsors to receive protection, the Government’s proposals go far beyond what is necessary.

“The Government needs to review the terms of the bill before it becomes law. These measures could have a serious impact on the UK ad industry in what ought to be its best-ever trading year.”

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