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The Yau Law Firm
Focused on Protecting Businesses and Representing the Injured

Olympic Hosts Insult “Fat American Families” to Thwart Trademark Grief

Why are Londoners insulting the U.S. with sales of “I’M RENTING MY FLAT TO A FAT AMERICAN FAMILY” Olympic memorabilia?  It’s a clever, but age-old trick to skirt trademark infringement liability.

It’s common knowledge that London, as an Olympic host city, stands to make a lot of money from visitors and tourists.  The International Olympic Committee does too, from selling their own official merchandise and licensing its logos to official sponsors.  Their brands are worth millions from companies like McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, and other companies wanting to capture audiences around the world.

In light of the IOC’s possessiveness over the value over their official licenses, they systematically crack down on the citizens of host cities (or anyone, really) who are using Olympic logos to make a dollar.  For instance, they look for retail promotions, accomodation offers, restaurant specials, clothing, and souvenirs that locals may market with official trademarks like the Olympic rings.  You can even see that the phrase “London 2012” has been a registered trademark since 2008!

When Jacksonville, Florida, hosted the Superbowl in 2005, I had a number of local entrepreneurs call me about Cease & Desist letters they received from the National Football League.  Can’t they buy items, use their own efforts to put “Superbowl” on it, and sell it?  Why can’t they advertise their spare bedroom for rent with the phrase, “Superbowl lease”?  The answer is that the word, “Superbowl” is NFL’s registered trademark.  So if money is being made in connection with the word, “Superbowl,” the NFL wants you to get their blessing.

Permission is not cheap.  Neither is trademark infringement.  That’s why many Jacksonville residents ended up marketing their offers with phrases like, “Beer specials for The Big Game.”

“The Big Game” and “I’m Renting My Flat to a Fat American Family” are ways to refer to the Superbowl or the Olympics without actually infringing on the trademark-protected brands.  By the soaring popularity of “Fat American Family” items, though, it appears that entrepreneurs in the U.K. are creating a strong brand of their own.  Other phrases deserving honorable mention in commemorating “a certain event taking place in East London this year”:

  • “It only took me three hours to get to work this morning”
  • “They’re all on steroids”
  • “Lodnon 2102 Oimplycs” (with extra credit for their five-squared logo)


My fellow Americans:  unite!  Don’t let the Londoners get the last laugh–or all the money.  What’s a clever retort for you to promote your Olympic-themed venture?  Submit your answers:  the best retort that qualifies for trademark registration by the end of the Closing Ceremonies gets their attorney fees waived for a trademark application filing at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office!

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