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Current "Olympic" Naming Problem Was Foreseeable in 1998

Why didn’t Washington State’s Congressional delegation prevent the Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act from granting a monopoly over the word “Olympic” without carving out a broader exception for Washington-based Internet sales?

That’s the question Seattle-area blogger Trish Wareing recently asked.

I think it’s a darn good one.

As previously discussed, the statute excepts trade names and trademarks from the United States Olympic Committee’s monopoly over the term when “it is evident from the circumstances that such use of the word ‘Olympic’ refers to the naturally occurring mountains or geographical region of the same name that were named prior to February 6, 1998, and not to the corporation or any Olympic activity” and “such business, goods, or services are operated, sold, and marketed in the State of Washington west of the Cascade Mountain range and operations, sales, and marketing outside of this area are not substantial.”

The last phrase is what’s unhelpful: “and … sales, and marketing outside of this area are not substantial.” Nowadays, everyone markets everywhere through the Internet. Couldn’t Washington’s legislators have figured that out when the statute was revised in 1998, and nipped this problem in the bud?

Ms. Wareing writes:

“As a Washington State resident and small business owner, I’m outraged that Washington State’s Congressional delegation was asleep at the wheel when this little ‘stay in Washington State’ clause was allowed to slip through unchallenged in the Stevens Act. Western Washington State is a tech savvy place. It is the home of Amazon.com (not to mention Microsoft and innumerable other dot coms, past and present). Was the value of internet marketing (especially for a growing small business) that obscure in 1998? If so, how come Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos was Time’s Man-of-the-Year in 1999?”

That’s a great point. Failing to foresee the havoc the statute would cause Washington’s many Olympic-named businesses when the statute was first enacted in 1978? Understandable.

But failing to foresee it when the statute was revised in 1998? Unforgivable. 

Clever graphic: BlogFromAHermit.com

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Reader Comments (1)

As a blogging “newbie” I was tickled that you found and linked to my post on the USOC. I have no vested interest in the matter, my small business is neither on, or named after, anything Olympic (although it is an internet company). I just saw a TV news bite and got curious and then aggravated.

I am pleased that you are tracking these ”Olympic” cases and I will be following your blog for updates – especially for the next couple of years. I'm sure there will be more to report.
August 28, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterTrish Wareing

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