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Thursday, 24 May 2012

Olympic No Logo – Your Survival Guide to London 2012

It’s with a certain amount of trepidation that I broach the subject of the coming Olympiad – or rather London 2012.

Wiser counsel suggests “don’t go there”.

So it’s just as well the law firm Eversheds has produced a handy London 2012 Legal Toolkit to help keep you on the Olympic straight and narrow.

Here are some of the main points (updated with the new law):

·         Opening Hours - the Sunday Trading (London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games) Act 2012 (passed on 1 May 2012) provides for a temporary relaxation of Sunday trading laws to optimise the opportunities for businesses during the Games – it begins on Sunday 22 July 2012 and ends on Sunday 9 September 2012 . Check your lease to see if you can increase your trading hours and what scope your landlord might have to object. Consider planning restrictions and staffing requirements too.

·         Temporary lets and pop-up shops – already a feature at peak trading times such as Christmas, there may be opportunities to tap into the massive increase of localised trade during the Games. Check the planning position.

·         Access to services – The Equality Act 2010 requires services to be made available to everyone in the same way; important at all times and especially so when over one million disabled visitors are expected in London for the Olympic and Paralympic Games, and there may be more of a risk with temporary premises.  

·         Insurance - check you’re covered for extended trading hours or if you broaden the scope of your trade.

·         The supply chain - across London and beyond the Olympics is likely to bring disruption to the supply chain through higher volumes of traffic and road diversions; all this when you’ll want to increase stock to take advantage. Devise a strategy for deliveries and check for any restrictions on hours of delivery in leases, which may need to be relaxed temporarily – this can easily be done with a side letter if both parties to the lease agree.

·         Signage, displays and productsWatch out! Strict advertising laws protect official Olympic sponsors and infringements, however accidental, can bring severe penalties. In some circumstances (such as producing or selling counterfeit merhchandise) they can even be a criminal offence.

So if you’re thinking of giving your shop front a temporary makeover with an event-that-can’t-be-named theme, you do so at your peril.

Basically, don’t.

“Unless you are an official sponsor, certain key representations including the five interlocking Olympic Rings and Olympic logos cannot be used. But the restrictions go much further and mean that even seemingly innocent graphics which suggest an official association between the retailer and the Olympics could fall foul of the legislation.”

Amongst some of the items that make up the Games’ “Marks” are the words “Olympic”, “Olympiad”, “Olympian” (and their plurals and words very similar to them – eg “Olympix”), and “London 2012” is now apparently both a word and a mark.

Of course, assiduous protection of intellectual property rights isn’t only confined to the Olympics, as Harry PotterTM fans can attest.

This is an “editorial news piece”, so I’m pleading journalistic immunity and playing it safe with Socrates - well, he was Greek after all, plus he isn’t trademarked and as one of the founders of Western philosophy his reputation even managed to survive Pythonesque slurs of habitual inebriation.

Enjoy the Games!

UPDATE 17/7/12 - Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, says response to small traders breaching rules should be "proportionate" - reports the Telegraph.

Photo by Ian W Scott via flickr

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