Following the UK’s recent publication of draft additional legislation protecting references to the Olympics, Italy has now followed suit with its Winter Olympics 2006 very much in mind.
Tough new anti-ambush laws for Turin Winter Olympics
Topic: Ambush marketing
Who: IOC, Italian Olympic Organising Committee
When: August 2005
Italy has passed a new law (Legge 17 agosto 2005, n.167) putting in place specific extra protections designed to combat “ambush marketing”.
The law relates solely to the Torino Winter Olympics in February 2006 and will cease to have effect on 31 December 2006. In the meantime, certain marketing activities by persons other than official sponsors will be a criminal offence in Italy, punishable by fines ranging from 1000 Euro to €100,000.
The legislation imposes a specific obligation on the Italian police to monitor all advertising for suspected breaches of the new law as the event draws near.
Use of the word OLYMPIC or OLYMPIAD or any “signs that contain, in any language words or references aimed at referring to the Olympic symbol, the Olympic games and the related events or that, as a result of their objective characteristics, may indicate a connection with the organization or the carrying out of the Olympic events” (our translation) is reserved exclusively to the organising committee. Any unauthorised use may give rise to prosecution and/or seizure of infringing items.
Why this matters
Italy is the latest in a line of countries who have agreed to put in place specific legislation giving extra rights to sports governing bodies and their official sponsors. South Africa did this for the Cricket World Cup 2003. Portugal did it for UEFA Euro 2004. Now the UK is set to follow suit with specific anti-ambush provisions in the London Olympics Bill, although the UK Government has recently indicated that it will consult more widely before finalising the legislation, a move seen by some as presaging a climb down from the harsh and wide ranging provisions in the first version of the Bill.
But is it right that advertisers’ freedom of commercial speech should be curtailed simply to give sports governing bodies a stronger bargaining position in their sponsorship negotiations?
21 October 2005
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