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The Internet

Olympic Committee Cracks Down On Domain Owners 197

RollingThunder writes: "The Globe and Mail has a story about the International Olympic Committee suing to have 1,800 domains removed. All the domains contain the words 'Olympic', 'Olympics', or 'Olympiad', and variations thereof like '2004olimpics.com'. Interesting that they're going after the DNS hierarchy (the lawsuit is filed in Alexandria, Va.) rather than the daunting task of going after the domain owners themselves." Wow. Maybe they could organize something where the domain owners could compete in a variety of fitness tests and games, you know, like the... Oh, never mind.
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The International Olympic Committee Cracks Down

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  • This raises the question over who is responsible for copyright infringments in domain names. Should the owner of the domain be held accountable or the host? Are people going to have to be more concious of the domains of the people they host? What I find slightly unnerving is that it would mostly likely take legistlation to implent true copyrighting in domain names and to assign where the blame lies for violation...which could be far reaching =\
  • Not always true. If the trademark is sufficiently famous (as decided by the court), then nobody can use it. Try opening a business called "Microsoft Burgers" and see how long it lasts.

    Not long, though nothing to do with trademarks unless it could kidnap people at gunpoint to get customers then if would go bust PBQ.

    It is possible for someone to open a resturant called "McDonalds" however. You'd need to get permission from Lord McDonald of McDonald, who takes a rather dim view of the American company misusing the name.
  • The IOC has since it?s beginnings held steadfast in it?s opinion that the word Olympic be used for the Olympic Games alone.

    Though when they started they at least stuck to sports events, not things completly unrelated. On the other hand had they complained to the White Star Line they might have been offered free tickets to the next ship :)
  • However, they expire if they are not defended - and the widespread use of Olympic in so many contexts makes it almost certain that, barring special statute protection a la the US, the IOC would lose trademark status if anyone fought them sriously.

    Also the US special staute probably has no legal basis whatsoever. Unless it took the form of a constitutional ammendment...
  • But the olypic games are over 2500 years old aren't they?

    So does that mean I can put a trademark on the work Jesus Christ? And sue anyone who has a domain like it? Or sue any churches?

    I'ts not as bad st that, but it's still the same principle.

  • This is the domain name copyright/trademark infringement largest lawsuit I can remember. If they succeed, it will truely be a dark day for freedom and the internet. Baseball (mlb), football (nfl) and other professional sports are probably going to watch this one real close. They might be inclined to prevent 'fan sites' from throwing around their trademarked names as well. It seems that web sites are becoming the 'bootlegs' of the new millenia.

    -- Moondog
  • Acually I worked at a now aquired isp who hosted olympic.net (another ISP on the olympic peninsula). Well I dont see the site up anymore so it looks like they were able to shut them down.

    I rember them telling us about this and we all laughed. But which one is around now?

    Guess I wont be donating anymone to any olympic teams until they figure out what they should be spending their money on.
  • The one thing that my (admitedly quick) perusal of responses here (and a survey of co-workers) shows is that nobody believes they'll get away with it.

    Don't doubt for a second that the IOC can win this. They've successfully sued long-established businesses from using the term "Olympic" (as someone did mention -- Atlanta 1996).

    The truly frightening thing, and I've asked about this before, is the fact that the understanding that "Trademarks are only for a certain domain of products" is very quickly withering away. Pilot pens suing over PalmPilot is but one example.

    The big question, in my mind, is why is that principal tenet of Trademark Law disappearing? And why doesn't it (apparently) apply to the internet? Fact is, I *should* be allowed to register, say, coke.com, even if I have *nothing whatsoever* to do with CocaCola. As long as I don't sell a cola called 'Coke,' I'm not violating any trademark.

    Just because it's stupid doesn't mean it can't happen.
  • Just out of curiosity what would happen if I registered "www.mpics.com" and then made the web site "oly.mpics.com"? Would they do anything about that? I think big companies/groups should stop trying to run over people all the time. Just because they have more money than the common folk doesn't mean that they can sue our stuff away from us.

    I do think the deserve www.olympics.com but anything else is just ridiculous. "Hey, I tried to see what was happening with the Olympics but I keep getting this pizza place instead!" "That's because you accidentally type pizza after olympics..." "Oh! Silly me!"
  • You are correct that trademarks do expire over time. However, they expire if they are not defended - and the widespread use of Olympic in so many contexts makes it almost certain that, barring special statute protection a la the US, the IOC would lose trademark status if anyone fought them sriously.

    Oh to be a multimillionaire happy to drop a few bucks on doing just that...

    It's amazing how many uninformed /.ers assume copyright == patent == trademark in any IP dicsussion.

    True, but you should be careful lest you perpetuate misinformation yourself.

  • Actually, I found no reference to the word 'dickhead' when I looked up the word.....

    What dictonary are you using?
  • I'm going to copyright my name, John. Then Im going to sue to have every else named John shot.

    And then you would have to sue every bathroom user
  • I would've found it far more interesting if the IOC was suing NSI for selling these names (especially since they're retaining the "ownership" of the names and hence the liability).

  • This is an example of something that really should be in the public domain being hogged up by a special interest. The Olympic Committee thinks their rights are being edged out -- well, the Olympics themselves belong to the world. Who do they think they are?
  • Doesn't NSI only claim to own all the .com, .net, and .org registered to THEM? I personally use another registrar, with their own database and whois server. To claim that NSI also owns those domain names not even registered with them is laughable.
  • we don't want consumers duped into purchasing items they think are Olympic-related when they are not

    translation: we DO want users duped into purchasing any useless item, just because is "official sponsor of the Olympic Games"
  • Can I register ïëõìðéáêüò NSI or does the IOC also have a trademark on the Greek. How about registering olympiakos?

    ATTN: IOC -- Legal Dept
    Registrant:
    Olympiakos A.E. (OLYMPIAKOS-DOM)
    3643 Elder Oaks BLVD Suite 6209
    Bowie, MD 20716
    US

    Domain Name: OLYMPIAKOS.COM

    Administrative Contact, Technical Contact, Zone Contact, Billing Contact:
    Georgiou, Kiriakos (KG120) kiriakos@UNFORGETTABLE.COM
    Olympiakos A.E.
    3643 Elder Oaks Blvd Suite 6209
    Bowie, MD 20716
    301 809 6157

    Record last updated on 17-Apr-2000.
    Record expires on 04-May-2001.
    Record created on 03-May-1995.
    Database last updated on 13-Jul-2000 21:05:17 EDT.

    Domain servers in listed order:

    NS2.OLYMPIAKOS.COM 207.176.88.85
    NS1.TPC.INT 207.102.129.130

    Registrant:
    NICK TSOUFLIDIS (OLYMPIAKOS6-DOM)
    708 ELMWOOD AVE
    BUFFALO, NY 14222
    US

    Domain Name: OLYMPIAKOS.NET

    Administrative Contact, Billing Contact:
    Tsouflidis, Nick (NT2329) webmaster@MODERN-NET.COM
    Modern Networks
    708 Elmwood Avenue
    Buffalo, NY 14222
    none of your business (FAX) none of your business
    Technical Contact, Zone Contact:
    mydomain Support (MS311-ORG) support@MYINTERNET.COM
    mydomain Support
    Email to address provided
    Email to address provided
    BM
    +1 (888) 700-4087

    Record last updated on 26-Jun-2000.
    Record expires on 07-Apr-2002.
    Record created on 07-Apr-2000.
    Database last updated on 13-Jul-2000 21:05:17 EDT.

    Domain servers in listed order:

    NS1.MYDOMAIN.COM 216.34.89.1
    NS2.MYDOMAIN.COM 216.34.89.2
    NS3.MYDOMAIN.COM 216.34.89.3
    NS4.MYDOMAIN.COM 216.34.89.4

  • they don't do this because they have always zealously protected their trademarks. the corporate sponsors of the olympics (like mcdonalds) pay lots of money to use the trademarks. the olympics feels it has a responsibility to make sure that no one uses those trademarks who doesn't pay.

    Think of all the special "olympic stuff" that you can get from places like mcdonalds, etc.. mcdonalds makes lots of money off that stuff.. and they give the olympics alot of money to use the logos..

    it's money that's the issue.. not misrepresentation.

    wish
    ---
  • Actually, I was using the dictonary reference not to establish their ownership on the word Olympic, but I was merely using it for reference.

    They do have a point in going after sites that are blatently trying to use the Olympic games/Committee to make a quick buck, ususally in a not so tasteful fashion. what I have a real problem with is them doing this carte blanche lawsuit to nail *everyone* who even remotely refers to the word Olympics. Far too many innocent people are going to get nailed due to their arrogance.....
  • what can adequately be explained by stupidity: Why don't they just go after the names they actually plan on using, instead of attacking anything with olympics in it? After all, it's not like the fake names will confuse people -- they will see the web site name from marketing, on TV.

    Or maybe they figured that since they were going to the DNS services anyway instead of the individual owners, they would be able to get rid of everything in one fell swoop. How canthey be that callous with other people's resources?
  • Many countries name their science competitions "olympiads" or something like that. Here's a smallish list [win.tue.nl]. By the way, the 41st International Mathematical Olympiad [imo2000.or.kr] is being held in South Korea right now.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Check out 'The New Lords of the Rings' by Andrew Jennings. I've worked for someone who was involved with various Olympic Committees and some of the tales are amazing - the extent of Samaranch's involvement with Franco in the Spanish Civil War, and the strings that Coke allegedly pulled to get the Games to Atlanta for example.
  • Many other sports organizations have to modify the rules of their games somewhat, or face prosecution from the Olympics.

    I mean, aren't these the same people who were taking bribes?

  • I worked for a company that provided web hosting services. This included registering customer's domain names with NSI.

    I registered one customers domain name, and a couple days later I recieved an email from NSI stating the domain name we were registering was invalid because it contained the word 'olympics' in it.

    The domain name? joescigars.com (not the real domain name, but it was for a cigar company).

    It took two weeks worth of phonecalls to them to clear this up.
  • Is that even possible with the way the DNS system is set up?

    No. Note the address of my web page... :)
  • [note: I just posted the following to a pocketwatch BBS, but gee, untouched it works great here also!
    The Elgin National Watch Company made high tech watches from 1864 until around 1964. At the time, the watch movements (think CPUs) were made by different companies than the watch cases (think computer cases).]


    Well, I think I can shed some light here by quoting/paraphrasing some stuff from "Elgin: An American History" by E. C. Alft. (The book is really about the history of the city of Elgin, but the city and the watch company are very related. A good book even if you don't care too much about the particular company/city because it describes how one, reasonably typical american city grew from 1835 until 1985.)

    Anyway, here is the quote:

    The Illinois Watch Case Company had been incorporated in 1888 as an outgrowth of a wholesale jewelry firm in Chicago. The president, Max C. Eppenstein, agreed to move to Elgin in return for land and a building [they moved in 1890] [ ... ]

    The Eppenstein firm intended to change its name to the Elgin Watch Case Company. The Elgin National Watch Company, which did not case its movements and was wary of the possible confusion, quickly moved to charter a corporation with that name. Then Eppenstein countered by organiing the National Watch Case Company of Elgin. The dispute was litigated and ultimately appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which in 1901 ruled that "Elgin" was a geographic designation which could not be an exclusive trademark because the city existed before the arrival of the watch factory.

  • Main Entry: Olympic Pronunciation: &-'lim-pik, O- Function: adjective Date: 1590 1 : 1OLYMPIAN 2 : of or relating to the Olympic Games

    So, the word itself refers to the Olympic games, and there is no reference to other uses. The only legitimate claim is for people who live in, or near, places like Olympia in Washington state, or have registered trademarks using the mythological work Olympia or Olympic (Like Olympic Meats).

    My point? While they may have a legitimate beef against companies trying to profit on the Olympics name (like sex sites), trying to have 1800 web sites pulled is ludicrous. They should do their research first, and check to see if the site has a legitimate claim to the URL.

    Now, if someone could only register the URL www.OlympicsForDummies.com, then we could REALLY have a fun time.

  • Would that the IOC recognized any legitimate uses of their Holy Words. This is just a new incarnation of a trend that IOC has been pursuing for 20 years, in which they have been hounding business users of the words Olympic, Olympiad, etc.

    In my hometown, a greek diner called the Olympic Diner was sued by IOC for their name. Anybody out their who knows what OM, or Odyssey of the Mind, competitions are might remember that they used to be called Olympics of the Mind before IOC sent their pack of trained watch-lawyers after 'em.

    It is things like this that make me realize I don't have the foggiest idea how the court system in this country is supposed to work.

    CJW

  • So is microsoft going to start going after companies that make those clear things in walls we see out of? Everyone knows that Microsoft owns windows.. Perhaps slashdot could remove anybody that uses a slash and a dot in their domain name.... hmm, i'm seeing all sorts of usefull ideas here...

    ------------------------------------------
    If God Droppd Acid, Would he see People???
  • This is really pathetic. I mean, really? What does it matter? If someone types in "Olympics" in Yahoo, Google, etc., I'd say 10 to 1 that the very first web match is going to be the official site. What's there really to complain about?

    Here's my problem with all this...whitehouse.gov and whitehouse.com. The two have existed now for at least four years. I am posative that if the government really wanted to, they could "pressure" whitehouse.com to change their domain name, but they don't. Why? Well, they're probably smart enough to know that they'd get some heavy fire if they did, but even so...one little mistake and some innocent kid looking up a government web site could find himself at a porn site.

    So, if a government web site and a porn site can get along, why can't some stupid difference between www.olympics.com and www.olympics24_7.com?
  • I wouldn't need any permission from Lord McDonald to open such a restaurant in the US. He has no legal grounds to stop me. McDonald's Corporation would, however, put a stop to it real quick. I doubt I could open a McDonald's laundromat without facing their lawyers.

  • "One, we don't want people making profit from Olympic trademarks that does not get returned to the athletes in some way. Two, we don't want consumers duped into purchasing items they think are Olympic-related when they are not." instead of outright suing, i believe that cease and desist letters would be more in order here. I understand that some people (it's possible!) could get confused when they want to purchase goods and services from a company. I present the (non-existant?) company of Olympic Metals. That could pose a problem.

    But it is worse than ridiculous that legitimate websites are being shut down in order to preserve their own profits.

  • Apple is also a trademark [apple.com] of Apple computers, inc. They wouldn't have a legal ground to stand for when suing, for instance the Apple Grocery Store. or whatever. HOWEVER, historically in DNS-space, such concerns are typically ignored, since there is only ONE www.apple.com, usually only the THREAT of legal action will scare NSI or whoever into reneging on your contract.

    Any ways, my point is, this has absolutely nothing to do with the phrase "Prior Art", which really only means anything in terms of patents.
  • Wow. I wish I was a smoker with Emphysema right about now.

    This has to rank as one of the most stupid things I've seen not only on salshdot, but anywhere on the net, and the net is a famously vast repository of stupidity.

    Try spending some time with people with emphysema. It's one of the least pleasant ways you can die, and one of the least pleasant ways for friends and family to have to watch someone go.

  • Olympic Paint [olympic.com]
    Guess I'd better buy my paint quick before the IOC puts them out of business!
  • Corporatism as used by political scientists in the current era involves the kind of government-buisness-union coordnation that occurs most prominently in the Low Countries, Scandanavia, and the Alpine states. Japan, Korea, and Taiwan are similar examples, minus the powerful trade unions.

    In fact, in the sense used by today's political scientists, the U.S. has the smallest degree of corporatism in the developed world...

    This is certainly true. However, your additional claim that Democrats perpetrate this in the US more than Republicans is 25% hogwash, and 75% irrelevant. The reason we don't have it in the US is that it's not "co-ordination." It's outright legalized corruption and bribery via Political Action Committees. And both parties are equally guilty (read: completely corrupt) in that.

    Boss of nothin. Big deal.
    Son, go get daddy's hard plastic eyes.
  • No, it's because Bill likes having pr0n so close to him!
  • The IOC has the copyright to ANY design of five interlocking rings. A few years ago they sued a company that makes a card game called Legend of the Five Rings. The card game (which is very good, go pick up some starters at your local game store) has nothing to do with the olympics. In fact its loosely based on Mirumoto Musashi's A Book of Five Rings. The company had to immediately change its packaging and now has to remove their logo from the card backs. How on earth did they get a copyright that is so vague and covers such a huge area?
  • Around here, in Seattle, we have the Olympic mountains to the west of us. A few years back, the IOC was running around here threatening to sue anyone who used the work Olympic in their business. I don't know if they ever pressured the Olympic National Park to change their name, but nothing much came of it that I heard of - still plenty of businesses with Olympic in their name around here.
  • One wonders what people who live in the Olympics mountain range in Washington State might think about this. Or those people who do business in Olympia, our state capitol.

    Kind of hard to trademark a place name, if you get my drift.

    www.olympicshardware.com for example (not a real URL, probably) or www.olynews.com for a weekly newspaper.

  • by John Jorsett ( 171560 ) on Friday July 14, 2000 @11:25AM (#932048)
    Hmmm. The city of Olympia, Washington is gonna have to rename itself if they want a web page. And Olympia Dukakis, watch out ...
  • So based on a special law passed in the US, the IOC is going to sue (in the US) to remove domains owned by people in other countries? Can't wait for some other countries to catch on and start passing laws to give themselves the Rights (tm) to all sorts of Valuable (tm) Trademarks (tm)
  • Is that even possible with the way the DNS system is set up?
  • I recall a friend who, about two years ago, noticed that a great many Olympic-related domain names were unregistered, and tried to register one. I don't recall which domain it was specifically, but he then received an email from NSI informing him that they couldn't allow him to register that domain because of that Congress-granted special status of the term 'Olympic'.

    There are obviously now registered domains containing the term 'Olympic'. When did this policy change?

    (Or am I mistaken as to the scope of this former ban?)
  • ...but I'm honestly surprised that their annual arts & sciences event / fighting tournament, called "Olympiad", hasn't been slapped down yet.

    Maybe a smallish LARP founded in the American southwest slips under their radar? (Maybe the people of Amtgard take great pains to make sure that, if any Olympic events are in the US, Olympiad is located well away from the area, as it's held in a different "kingdom" each year...)

    Jay (=
    (For more info on Amtgard, to go http://www.amtgard.com/ [amtgard.com])
  • Network Soluation and the other register services are just clearing houses. There is no reason for this. The ICO has got to realize that the word Olympic is almost getting so popular that it can't be protected with such vigur.
  • You nitwit. Prior Art is only even a meaningful term for patents. This is a trademark issue, and a misapplication of that.
  • And doesn't trademark law have separate "spheres" of trademark rights?

    Yeah, but that goes out the window in cases of very high-profile tradmarks. Take Apple records vs. Apple Computers as an example. So while "Olymp*" may technically refer to "near or pertaining to Mount Olympus or any other similarly named mountains", what comes to mind first for damn near everybody in the world is the Olympic Games, so they have a high risk of trademark dilution.

  • Considering the Olympic Games are older than Jesus, I would think that the name would have slipped into the Public Domain by now.

    I hope they get laughed out of court.

    Topher
    Got Freedom? [lp.org]

  • by Skald ( 140034 ) on Friday July 14, 2000 @01:01PM (#932057)
    Believe me. I lived at a US Olympic Training Center for years, and I've got friends in various parts of the USOC.

    We're talking about the people who won't let you use footage of *yourself* competing for less than $1000/second... even though they've never shown the footage to anyone, and nobody ever saw you win your medal. They're cutting back numbers in most sports (particularly those with weight classes, like wrestling, weightlifting, judo and taekwondo), so that they can economicially keep including more sports (like synchronized swimming and fscking ballroom dancing), for media reasons. Similarly, countries must now qualify their athletes, if they want to compete in the games. Of course they still talk about de Coubertain's vision... "The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle."

    Anyway, that's the IOC's up to on the surface. I won't go into the corruption stuff, since I can't substantiate it... I just saw a lot of it, and heard about a lot more. Suffice it to say that the bribery scandals weren't much of a shock. The amusing thing was, just as they were going on, the USOC was cutting back towel service for the OTC athletes, due to lack of funding. Scumbags. They're worse than the NCAA, and that's saying something.

    Anyway, no, this is a huge moneymaking organization which certainly doesn't give a damn about anyone else's resources. Heck, they even warned us not to use the rings on our web pages or fundraising stuff. This sort of thing is very typical of them; it's not stupidity.

  • by EricWright ( 16803 ) on Friday July 14, 2000 @11:27AM (#932058) Journal
    What about sites with legitimate uses, like the Science Olympiad [scioly.org]? I hope the IOC is told to take a flying leap in this case...

    Eric

  • They made a pizza place change its name! I mean, Olympic just refers to something having to do with Olympus, and pizza places seem to always have greek shit on the walls, so olympic pizza is a fine name for a pizza place. This is just so wrong!

    Hey, why do pizza places have greek shit on the walls anyway? Isn't pizza sposed to be italian or something?
  • > Congress granted "Olympic" special status a while back.

    Hey, _your_ Congress, not mine. Copyright law is still done on a per-nation basis (modulo a few international treaties), so I don't think they would have a basis for suing the Olympic Gyros place beside my school, for example.

    Donny
  • It would seem that a trademark like "Olympic" would be sufficiently diluted after, oh, 2500 years...

    Trademarks only apply if the alleged violator is participating in the same business activity as the holder.



  • by Golias ( 176380 ) on Friday July 14, 2000 @11:43AM (#932062)
    What a bunch of jackasses.

    I suggest that everybody contact Michael Payne, the Marketing Director of the IOC and let him know what you think. The address is:

    Michael Payne, Marketing Director
    C/O International Olympic Committee
    Château de Vidy
    1007 Lousanne, Switzerland

    Or, if you don't mind the phone bill, call them at 41.21.621.6111.

    Or fax them. (41.21.621.6216)

    If you would rather pester the Organizing Committee for e-mail addresses of who to contact, call them in Salt Lake City, toll free, at 1-800-212-2002 (Fax: 1-800-364-7644)

  • How can the Olympic Commitee claim to own the word Olympic? It's been part of the english (and other languages) lexicon since before english even existed

    I remember when Zilog started sending threatening letters to any computer company that had the letter Z in its name, claiming that it it infringed on their corporate identity (they were best known for their Z80 processor), or some such nonsense. I seriously doubt that they'd have prevailed in most cases, but few wanted the costs of taking on a major corporation (backed by Exxon, incidentally), so they had to rename their companies. The point being, they don't necessarily have to have a valid legal case, they can use the intimidation factor to get their way.
  • SpecialOlympics.org is going to be pretty fscked

    Not necessarily. Just because the IOC has anything Olympi* trademarked doesn't mean that they won't/haven't given other groups the right to use it. My guess is that Special Olympics has long requested and has been granted rights to use the terms contained in Olymp*

    ObTangent: This whole thing is about as lame as having the term Realtor trademarked...

  • ------------
    And now, live from Utah, the capital for Olympic (TM) bullshit ...

    from the same award winning team that brought you bribery, illegal scholarships, collapsing buildings and corrupt Olympic (TM) officials, its "Get your damn hands off of my name"
    *clap*clap*clap*
    -----------------

    But seriously folks, be glad you don't live here in Salt Lake City, we have to put up with this hipocracy daily. They lie cheat and steal to get the Olympics here, but now that they have it, they will be angry if anyone butts in.... I am truely, truely sorry that you all have to watch the 2002 winter olymipics in your own country be so throughly screwed up. I really am.

    You know, I agree with their restriction against people using the 5 rings. Thats their defining symbol, they should be allowed to use it. But going after the world "olympic"???? Correct me if I am wrong, but doesn't olympic mean more than "2 week long corporate sponsoring orgy?" I am pretty sure it also means "grandious" (as in the Olympia Mountains as someone has previously mentioned).

    Seriously now... the USOC and the IOC and the SLOC (Salt Lake Olympic (TM) Committee) have f*cked up enough. Save your dignity and have some respect for what the Olympics are really about.
  • Special Olympics survived.
    Gay Olympics lost the trademark suit.

  • But Olympic had been in common use, the only reason it was able to be trademarked was through a specific act of congress, as mentioned elsewhere in this thread.

    For instance no matter how much money I pour into branding a drink called Water, I can't get trademark rights to it. This is why AMD comes up with lame names for its products like the Duron, so that they can create a branded product with trademark protection.

    A trademark can only be retained indefinately if it retains its uniqueness, which if it enters the common vernacular (as was the case with the specific examples above) you lose it. This generally means if your brand becomes associated with an entire class of products you will end up losing your trademark.

    But you are correct that it is not the same as patents or copyrights, but in any normal sense the olympic trademark would have been denied because the term had been in common usage for centuries.
  • I did something call Science Olympiad. Are they treading on toes. I guess they can't have a website either. It would be so cool too, you know how much work geek high school students put into a website.
    Kate

  • IOC, USOC, AND SLOC JOINTLY FILE GROUNDBREAKING LAWSUIT AGAINST CYBERSQUATTERS [olympic.org]

    "This is clearly wrong. We are going to continue going after these cybersquatters for three main reasons," Mr. Pound added. "One, we don't want people making profit from Olympic trademarks that does not get returned to the athletes in some way. Two, we don't want consumers duped into purchasing items they think are Olympic-related when they are not. Three, we need to protect the values of the Olympic Movement against uses out there that are clearly illicit."

  • by jd ( 1658 ) <imipak@yaHORSEhoo.com minus herbivore> on Friday July 14, 2000 @11:47AM (#932086) Homepage Journal
    The Olympics Committee has precious little basis for this. The Olympics is named after Olympia and Mount Olympus. I think Zeus has prior claim to the name.

    IMHO, it might be good to steer clear of everyone in the Olympic Committee for a while. The Greek Gods never had good aim with those lightning bolts.

  • Not public domain, however Trademarks can be lost because of common usage. Ask Bayer (they lost the asprin tradmark), some other famous lost trademarks include:

    cellophane

    escalator

    thermos

    nylon

    harmonica

    linoleum

    trampoline

    yo-yo

    zipper

    Here's a link [courttv.com] and here's another [sparc.org].

    So the question is did the Olympics become common usage or has the modern olympic commite reinstated the mark's value through their promotion, and thus should get exclusive use of the mark. Aparently the people who assign trademarks felt they had a valid mark (but its equally possible they were wrong).

    However, trademarks are only protected for use in trade and aren't ment to stop free expression. Thus you should be able to set up a non-profit site like www.theolympicssuck.org and they shouldn't be able to stop you. OTOH the intent and the implementation of the law often aren't the same.

    Always be aware of the basic rule of the road, you may be in the right but do you really want to try to prove it by stepping into a crosswalk in front of the speeding truck?

  • I used to work at a little ISP called Olympic Net in 1995 when the same thing happened. They had to give up their entire domain name and are now called "Silverlink [silverlink.net]". Where do we live? We live at the base of the Olympic Mountains in Washington State (who's capital is named Olympia). We asked why they weren't pursuing all of the local companies with Olympic in their name and they said that the Internet was international.

    We were just a small ISP at the time and there's no way we could have fought it so we just caved. The most irritating thing was that I checked "olympic.net" a few years later and it was being used by "Olympic Paints".
    --
    Quantum Linux Laboratories - Accelerating Business with Linux
    * Education
    * Integration
    * Support

  • Don't worry about the organizers of the "Special Olympics" and the "Science Olympiad" - they have permission.

    Damn, I was hoping that they'd try to sue the Special Olympics so that entire IOC would be immediately tarred and feathered, putting a just yet comical end to this utter bullshit.


    It would bring new meaning to the phrase "international community" when representatives of every nation on the planet compete at outdoing each other in expressing moral outrage at those who bring lawsuits against disabled children.

  • I won't go into the corruption stuff, since I can't substantiate it
    Coincidentally, there's a little blurb in the TV Guide (Canadian edition anyways) about the 1976 Montreal Olympics, which started that year on July 17th. The original budget for the Games was $310 Million, but after corruption, labour disputed, and general screwing around, the final cost was $1.4 Billion.
    As of 1994 the Government of Quebec still owed $304 Million.
    It took almost 20 years for the roof of the Stadium to be completed, and it didn't work!
    I'm still amazed people want my city (Toronto) to have the games, given the Salt Lake and Quebec scandals. Yeesh.
    At least from what I've heard, Sydney's aren't over-budget!

    Pope

    Freedom is Slavery! Ignorance is Strength! Monopolies offer Choice!
  • Remember when you had to be a non-professional to compete? Back when the amount of money floawing around the IOC was soooo much smaller - well I think they should go back to the old-style olympics as the Greeks envisioned them .... keep them in one place, don't move them around and make them non-commercial ...

    Oh, and did I mention? .... everyone will have to compete naked .... that whould keep the NBCs of the world away .....

  • Heck, the IOC would have huge legal fees if they had 1800 cases against the domain holders. I would think the individuals could intimidate IOC if they threatened to force IOC to bring suits against 1800 people. Which would probably force the IOC to trim the number down to just a few most important/rich/press-attention-getting domains.
    --
  • This whole thing is about as lame as having the term Realtor trademarked...

    The generic term for REALTOR® is "real estate agent." But "Olympic" itself is a semi-generic term that can also mean "near or pertaining to Mount Olympus or any other similarly named mountains." (Fully generic terms are not protected under US trademark law.) And doesn't trademark law have separate "spheres" of trademark rights? (Sports is one sphere; pizza is another sphere; etc.)


    <O
    ( \
  • by arkansas ( 192374 ) on Friday July 14, 2000 @12:06PM (#932111)
    While it seems ridiculous to claim a trademark over a word that's thousands of years old, this case is specifically empowered by Congress. The US olympic committee (and I guess by extention the IOC) were given the trademark rights to the word Olympic (despite its very common use) by Congress a something like fifty years ago. So it's actually very likely that this will stand up in court. I think a really interesting question is the one of the remedies the olympic committee is seeking. They seem to want Network Solutions to use a filter to automatically reject any registration with the words olympic in it. This seems pretty extreme and is the part of the suit I'd really like (and expect) to see thrown out.
  • There are many, many sites that have legitimate claim to a domain with "Olympic" in the name. The exceptions are those that use "Olympic" or one of its derivations to leech off the IOC's reputation, and I think Olympicsex might qualify there. Still, there is a very good argument that the term is so widely used, and since the term was originated thousands of years ago, that it may rightly be public domain.

    Regardless of whether or not these points are valid, this kind of thing MUST be handled on a case-by-case basis. That's how the American legal system works.
  • I'm still amazed people want my city (Toronto) to have the games, given the Salt Lake and Quebec scandals. Yeesh.

    Things have changed, and the pivotal year was 1984. The '84 games were the first to really start raking in the money. Before that, things were often on a shoestring... but now hosting the games means a fortune to a city. Which is why, if I recall correctly, there's a $100,000 fee just to turn in your (book-sized) application to have your city host the games. I think that's confidential information, by the way, so don't tell anybody. ;-)

  • Yep, it'd be on Fox, or Cinemax. Or maybe it'd just be Pay-Per-View. After seeing the latest Esquire (girls of the summer games), I think that'd probably make some serious money.
    ----------------------------
  • Most of the "Olympics" and "Olympiads" out there, according to our present system, must get IOC permission to use Olympic in their titles.

    The IOC got special legal protections above any beyond any other trademark in most countries because the arena was, at one time, one of the major venues of international pride. Certain eastern european countries had the equivalent of a Cabanet/Ministerial post devoted to (winning) The Olympics, and many countries in the west were little better.

    Don't worry about the organizers of the "Special Olympics" and the "Science Olympiad" - they have permission.

    However, a few years back, the formerly named "Gay Olympics" were forced to change their name to the "Gay Games". (Apparently the english word "Game" can't be trademarked, even though the English, Greek, and other multi-lingual word "Olympic" can be.) Also, the courts completely chuck common-sense out the window when judging these lawsuits.

    I'm not saying this is how it should be, but that is how it is.

  • Actually it refers back to Mount Olympus which I thought is where the games got there name. Maybe I'm just stupid.
    Molog

    So Linus, what are we doing tonight?

  • by matman ( 71405 ) on Friday July 14, 2000 @11:53AM (#932130)
    they cant exactly sue the domain operators, since they dont own the domains :)

    NSI set themselves up to be sued... remember how everyone was/is mad at them for saying that they OWN all domain names? well, now it's comming back to bite them in the asses :)
  • by KFury ( 19522 ) on Friday July 14, 2000 @11:53AM (#932131) Homepage
    In 108 years, the Olympic Committee seems to have forgotten that the very spirit and name of the olympics was lifted wholesale from the ancient games. It's not as if they obtained rights to the term in a legal transaction with the original trademark owners.

    They could use the term 'olympics' for the modern game because it was already in the three-thousand year old public domain. Just because the modern incarnation has been around for a century and has become high profile doesn't give them a magical right to take the trademark out of the public domain!

    Going after others that use the name in the spirit of the original games (science olympiad, special olympics, etc.) is admitting that the modern olympics shouldn't have had the right to use the name for the past century!

    Kevin Fox
  • by interiot ( 50685 ) on Friday July 14, 2000 @12:09PM (#932132) Homepage
    From here [internationalgames.net]:
    • Why Can't the Gay Games be the "Gay Olympics"

      At the conclusion of the Gay Games this past month in Amsterdam, an ancient question arose. Why can't the Gay Games be the Gay Olympics? Many participants seemed to be perturbed that the games were being unfairly made to refrain from the use of the word Olympic.

      The answer has it's historic roots in decisions made by the resurrectors of the Olympic Games over 100 years ago. No games has been singled out or treated differently. The IOC has since it's beginnings held steadfast in it's opinion that the word Olympic be used for the Olympic Games alone, the Special Olympics being the one exception.

      In 1913, Japan, China and the Philippines established a regional games which were called the "First Asian Olympic Games". The name was changed to the Far East Championships for all subsequent editions.

      When Alice Milliat, the founder of the Federation Sportive Feminine International, wanted to establish events for women in 1922, she called her games the Jeux Olympiques Feminins. Pierre de Coubertin and the IAAF took notice. A compromise of sorts was agreed to. The FSFI would drop the use of the word Olympic, and the IOC would admit women into it's games.

      In 1923 Frenchman Jean Petitjean was promoting his first games for university students as the University Olympic Games. De Coubertin again protested and convinced him to change the name. The International University Games were established, and are know known around the world as the World University Games, World Student Games or Universiade.

      More recently the Huntsman World Senior Games were inaugurated in 1987 as the World Senior Olympics, but were made to change their name to the World Senior Games the following year.

      Various Police and Fire Olympics have been asked to refrain from using the word Olympic to describe their events.

      The case involving the Gay Games (International Olympic Committee vs. San Francisco Arts and Athletics, 781 F. 2d 733) was decided in January of 1986.

      So what about the Special Olympics? The Special Olympics were begun by Eunice Kennedy Shriver in 1968. The use of the word Olympic by her organization was addressed by the USOC in 1971. At that time the USOC gave it's approval for the Special Olympics to be the exception to the rule and the only organization outside the Olympic movement with permission to use the word Olympic. This permission would be expanded in 1988 when the IOC recognized and endorsed the Special Olympics movement.

      In this context the lawsuit between the IOC and the Gay Games in the early 80s becomes just one of many instances in which the IOC has asked organizations to reserve the use of the word Olympic for the Olympic Games.


    --
  • by Flounder ( 42112 ) on Friday July 14, 2000 @11:53AM (#932134)
    Since the word Olympic comes from the original greek Olympics, maybe the government of Greece should sue the IOC.

    And, for those of you that want to know, fucktheolympics.com, fucktheioc.com, and olympicdoghumping.com are all available.

  • When I was a little kid, some of us would compete in the "Olympics of the Mind". After a few years the name was changed to "Oddessey of the Mind" due to problems with the Olympics.

    Doh.
  • by Frymaster ( 171343 ) on Friday July 14, 2000 @12:16PM (#932141) Homepage Journal
    Well, the domain name thing is new... I unfortunately, had to suffer through the 88 winter olympics as a resident Calgarian... Naturally, a lot of small businesses got warnings about their naming choices including one Greek restaurant owner who grew up 10 mi. from mount Olympus (no, not the one on mars). My fave of all time, though, was the Salvation Army's silhouette billboard campaign that featured one particular piece of artwork that the IOC claimed "looked" too much like a bobsled logo. The artwork in question featured a person in a wheelchair. If you can mistake a wheelchair for a bobsled, then you're suitably out of touch with winter sports that your mindshare shouldn't really matter to the IOC.
  • The president of the IOC was a high ranking fascist official in world war II. This is not an organization that subscribes to higher morals, truth, and spirit. This is a corrupt, money grubbing, back stabbing, self serving entity that would see you bankrupt and dead rather than lose a single dollar.

    Personally, I don't give a rats ass about the olympics. I would rather be out participating in a sport than watching it in some tramped up production put on by scoundrels.

    But, that is just my humble opinion.

  • by sulli ( 195030 ) on Friday July 14, 2000 @11:29AM (#932145) Journal
    Olympic Airways? [olympic-airways.gr] Or Olympus cameras [olympus.com]? Or the National Park Service, which operates Olympic National Park? [nps.gov] Or Olympic College [ctc.edu] in Washington State? Or will they only sue Mom and Pops who they know won't have the resources to fight?

    Arrgh.

    sulli

  • by phil reed ( 626 ) on Friday July 14, 2000 @11:29AM (#932146) Homepage
    Congress granted "Olympic" special status a while back. You're pretty much guaranteed to be accused of violating the trademark if you use "Olympic" anything. "Olympia" is apparently OK.


    ...phil
  • by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Friday July 14, 2000 @11:29AM (#932149) Homepage Journal
    SpecialOlympics.org is going to be pretty fucked. Maybe the Olympic Comittie should push some of those wheelchairs down the stairs while they're at it...
  • by John Jorsett ( 171560 ) on Friday July 14, 2000 @11:30AM (#932152)
    I think organizations that attempt to have domains pulled should have to post a bond to cover the owner's costs if the owner prevails. Right now, you're looking at a costly legal fight that penalizes you even if you win. Companies and others use this to intimidate innocent targets into backing down.
  • Last I checked, the word Olympic belongs to the Greek language, and not to the IOC.

    This is about as ridiculous as Amazon's attempt to patent one-click buying.

    Maybe I'll form a pizza-cooperative and begin suing pizza-hut, papa john's, etc...

    gitm

  • How can the Olympic Commitee claim to own the word Olympic? It's been part of the english (and other languages) lexicon since before english even existed, and I imagine it was in use for a heck of a long time before the Olympics were ressurrected during the last century.

    This is another example of shoddy copyright protection, and it unfortunately puts the burden of proof on the accused (the people with the domains) instead of the accusers, due to the way the commission is doing this.

    So, what's next, do they start forbidding the sale of commemorative Wheaties boxes with Mary Lou Rhetton on them? Maybe they'll sue all the sites with action based names like jump.com and runner.com and swim.org because they refer to activities that occur at the Olympics.
  • Well, the NFL Players Association said that Gridiron.com can't [yahoo.com] use players' names on their web site. Additionally, a site called NFLToday.com (and .net, and .org) was slapped down [thestandard.com] by the NFL. And the New York Yankees didn't like [nydailynews.com] a man who had newyorkyankees.com.

    These and more from Domain Diaries [domainhandbook.com], brought to my attention through Google.
  • Back when I was in high school, they had "Olympics of the Mind". The IOC sent a cease&desist and they became "OM" and, eventually, "Odyssey of the Mind".
  • [Dictionary definition of 'Olympic' snipped for brevity]

    So, the word itself refers to the Olympic games, and there is no reference to other uses.

    Actually, Webster's dictionary sold the rights to the definition. Hey, with their dictionary freely available online, they've got to have some kind of "business model", right? Why not sell the right to modify the meanings of words? Microsoft could define 'internet' as 'MSN'. Coke could pay to have the metallurgical meanings of their name removed from the dictionary.

    My point, all kidding aside, is that the dictionary is hardly the place you want to be looking for establishing who is the rightful owner of anything. Dictionaries describe language use, they don't *prescribe* it. At most one could argue that they do a little of both. In neither case are dictionaries authoritative in a legal sense. If they were authoritative, no one could trademark any words because to do so would fail to fully conform to the 'canonical' use of the word. In other words, you imply that in order to qualify as a *potential* trademark, any commercial use of a word must conform to the dictionary-defined usage. I find such a proposition ludicrous at best.

    Dictionaries can be corrupted and bent to serve a nefarious purpose just like any other human institution. When it comes to dictionaries, it seems as if we are still stuck with the 18th Century's optimism about objectivity, despite showing considerable cynicism about absolute truth in other matters.

  • by kevin805 ( 84623 ) on Friday July 14, 2000 @10:18PM (#932175) Homepage
    Forgive me, but I can't seem to find the section of the constitution regarding "granting exclusive use of english words to a single organization". I do remember some bit about inventors and creative works and stuff, but nothing about "give us money for whatever law you want".

    Yep, just reread that section, and guess what: It's not there. The closest congress comes is regulation of interstate trade, which the current supreme court actually thinks means "interstate trade", as opposed to congress's "whatever the hell we want". Trademark is protection against fraud. This law granting exclusive use of this word to a single organization is not about protecting against fraud, and isn't about anything congress is empowered to do.
  • by nharmon ( 97591 ) on Friday July 14, 2000 @11:33AM (#932179)

    Actually there was a guy in Olympia, Washington who's swimming pool company was named Olympic Swimming Pools. The IOC sued him. Although he did win the lawsuit, legal bills caused him to shut down.

    The IOC is a bunch of real assholes. Personally, I don't watch the olympics, read about the olympics or even CARE about the olympics for that matter. Just keep me out of it.

    Simply stated, I'd like to see some counter-suits caliming malicious prosecution. I mean, you can't get any farther from trademark violation.

  • by tdrury ( 49462 ) on Friday July 14, 2000 @11:33AM (#932180) Homepage
    When they were here in Atlanta in 1996, they had every store with a name similar to "Olympic" change its name. The local news profiled one small cafe' with the name something like "Olympic Cafe" that had been in business for over ten years. They changed their name to avoid the suit. Typical strong arm tactics. It would seem that a trademark like "Olympic" would be sufficiently diluted after, oh, 2500 years...

    -tim
  • But seriously folks, be glad you don't live here in Salt Lake City, we have to put up with this hipocracy daily. They lie cheat and steal to get the Olympics here, but nowthat they have it, they will be angry if anyone butts in.... I am truely, truely sorry that you all have to watch the 2002 winter olymipics in your own country be so throughly screwed up. I really am.

    Hey, it could be worse, you could be in Sydney.

    It's so bad over here that one of Australia's top rating shows is The Games [abc.net.au], a mockumentary satirising the Sydney Olympics' organisation.

    One of the more amusing storylines was the registration of a personal domain by a Mr. Sydney Games . . .

  • You'd have to go after Network Solutions...remember, they own [slashdot.org] the domain names...

  • Not always true. If the trademark is sufficiently famous (as decided by the court), then nobody can use it. Try opening a business called "Microsoft Burgers" and see how long it lasts.

  • Maybe someone can persuade Matt and Trey to let Big Gay Al have some Big Gay Olympics, just to piss these guys off...
  • by interiot ( 50685 ) on Friday July 14, 2000 @12:38PM (#932196) Homepage
    See here [house.gov] for the specific bill.

    Short synopsis:

    • Can't use the words "Olympic", "Olympiad", "Paralympic", "Paralympiad", or "Pan-American" in a trademark or to induce the sale of goods without the IOC's permission
    • Exceptions are made for pre-existing (before Sep 21, 1950) or for geographic references to mountains that were named before Feb 6, 1998.
    This is so bizarre...
    --

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