August 12, 2016

Olympics Inspire Stronger IP Protection Laws in Brazil

Brazil soccerThe weeks and months leading up to the Olympic games were dominated by headlines over everything from Brazil’s economic and political turmoil to concerns over the Zika virus. But one headline you probably didn’t read was praising the medal-worthy actions Brazil took prior to the games to protect intellectual property.

Here are just a few of the ways Brazil collaborated with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to guarantee that IP protection was not forced to take a back seat during the celebrations around the games.

For starters, while the athletes were perfecting their craft in anticipation of the upcoming Olympic trials, the Brazilian Patent and Trademark Office (BRPTO) passed Rule #167/2016 which allowed for fast-track examination of industrial design applications for sporting goods. Protection for industrial design – which can include anything from the design of the newest top-of-the-line running shoe to that of the watches affixed to cyclists or sprinters – prevents those looking to sell counterfeit goods from profiting off of an innovative company’s design.

Brazil also enacted the Olympics Act to better protect IP specific to the games themselves. The Act allows for temporary extra protections (“famous status”) for the organizers’ trademarks, and creates civil and criminal penalties for violators. Providing this broader protection can act as a deterrent against unauthorized advertising and ambush marketing surrounding the games.

In turn, the IOC published Guidelines for Brand Protection – a cheat sheet for companies and athletes alike – in accordance with the terms of the Olympic Act to ensure all brands and sponsors are adequately protected throughout the duration of the games. Specifically, the Guidelines give the Olympic Committee the exclusive right to the use of logos, symbols, and images surrounding the games. This includes everything from the Olympic motto Altius, Citius, Fortius – which translates to Higher, Faster, Stronger – to use of variations of the term “Rio 2016,” “Team USA,” or “Go for the Gold.”

The guidelines are important for a number of reasons. The Olympic Committee works tirelessly to ensure that the games are among the world’s premier sporting events. Protection for their trademarks and logos helps consumers discern which events or products associated with the game are legitimate.

In an era where counterfeiters will do anything to make a buck at the expense of the consumer, it’s more important than ever that the Olympics are afforded IP protection in order to preserve the sanctity of the games. What’s more, the laws around the Olympics help to create greater awareness about the importance of IP protection for the everyday consumer and the consequences of IP infringement.

So as you sit back to taken in the Olympic Games, don’t forget to give an extra cheer for IP protection, which helps to ensure that the official Olympic events can play on.

Kelly Anderson is the senior manager of international intellectual property for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Global Intellectual Property Center.

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