INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY PROTECTION
OLYMPIC AND PARALYMPIC
MILANO CORTINA 2026
2. Olympic and Paralympic Intellectual Property
3. Ordinary laws for the protection of Olympic and Paralympic Intellectual Property
4. Special Legislation for the Protection of Olympic and Paralympic Intellectual Property
5. Ambush Marketing
The distinctive signs of the Milano Cortina 2026 Games express the vision and values of the Olympic and Paralympic Games and constitute the visual representation of the Olympic and Paralympic ideals as well as being a fundamental commercial asset.
The revenues deriving from the granting of marketing and television rights represent, in fact, the two main sources of financing for the Olympic and Paralympic Games, respectively. Therefore, the exploitation of the Industrial and Intellectual Property rights of the Games is essential in order to finance their organization and guarantee, more generally, the future of the entire Olympic Movement.
On the basis of this assumption, it is evident that the fundamental corollary of this organizational and economic model is the exclusivity of the concessions of rights in favor of those who decide to make huge investments in order to associate themselves, their image and their brand with the Olympic Games. and Paralympic, thus acquiring the faculty to designate themselves as "Olympic Partners".
In light of the above, it is extremely important to preserve the emotional and commercial value of the distinctive signs of the Olympic and Paralympic Games and their uniqueness through measures to prevent and suppress any infringement of industrial and intellectual property rights.
These Guidelines are aimed at illustrating the Olympic and Paralympic Intellectual Property, which the Organizing Committee of the Milano Cortina 2026 Games is called upon to manage and protect, by virtue of the contract stipulated between the IOC and the host cities, CONI and the Committee. Organizer itself and to recall the national and international laws to protect them, as well as the special legislation issued in view of the Milano Cortina 2026 Olympic and Paralympic Games and the laws that protect against unfair commercial practices, known as Ambush Marketing, implemented in in relation to major sporting events (but not limited to) of global significance, such as the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
2. The Olympic and Paralympic Intellectual Property
The best known of the Olympic properties is represented by the Five Olympic Circles, the only symbol in the world to be protected by an International Treaty. However, the concept of Olympic (and Paralympic) intellectual property is very broad and heterogeneous and includes every emblem, symbol, brand, logo, mascot, anthem, designation, work protected by copyright law, design, patent, secret information. and any other material that is functional to the organization of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
In particular, they fall within the Olympic and Paralympic Properties, by way of example and not limited to:
• The Olympic emblem (FIVE OLYMPIC CIRCLES);
• The Paralympic emblem (AGITOS PARALIMPICO);
• The official trademarks of the Milano Cortina 2026 Games;
• The trademarks of the Games, where by Games we mean the Olympic and Paralympic Games of MILANO CORTINA 2026 and of all the present and future editions of the Olympic Games;
• The symbols, pictograms, mascots, visual identity of the Games (so-called “Look of the Games”);
• Official merchandising (ie, official products bearing the Games' trademarks);
• The official expressions and Olympic and Paralympic designations, including, but not limited to, the words: OLYMPIC / A / I; OLYMPICS / I; OLYMPIC AND PARALYMPIC GAMES; OLYMPICS OF MILANO CORTINA 2026; OLYMPICS OF MILANO CORTINA; MILANO CORTINA 2026; MILANO CORTINA; WINTER OLYMPIC AND PARALYMPIC GAMES; GAMES OF 2026; GAMES OF MILANO CORTINA 2026; GAMES OF MILANO CORTINA; THE XXV WINTER OLYMPIC GAMES and any variation and translation of the same in any language;
• The Olympic motto: 'Altius, Citius, Fortius' and any translation of the same into any language;
• The Olympic Creed: 'The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle' and any translation of the same in any language;
• The Paralympic motto: 'Spirit in Motion' and any translation of the same in any language
• The Paralympic creed: 'To enable Paralympic athletes to achieve sporting excellence and to inspire and excite the world' and any translation of the same in any language;
• The flag, torch, flame and Olympic and Paralympic medals, reproduced in any way;
• The images and audiovisual material, publications and any other material relating to the Milan Cortina 2026 Games;
• The images and the audiovisual material from the repertoire of the Games;
• The posters of the Games and any work protected by copyright law relating to the Games;
• Any design, patent, secret information that is functional to the organization of the Olympic Games.
3. Ordinary laws for the protection of Olympic and Paralympic Intellectual Property
Olympic and Paralympic Intellectual Property is protected by ordinary national and international laws on trademarks, designs, patents, copyright, unfair competition and unfair commercial practices, which delineate the boundary between lawful and illegal activities.
Among these, in particular:
• Treaty of Nairobi of September 26, 1981, ratified under the law of July 24, 1985, n. 434 (Olympic symbol)
The Olympic symbol, as defined in the annex to the Treaty of Nairobi of 26 September 1981, ratified by Italy with the law of 24 July 1985, n. 434, cannot be registered as a trademark or other distinctive business sign, for any class of products or services, except in cases of express written authorization from the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
• Legislative Decree 10 February 2005, n. 30 (Industrial Property Code)
The Industrial Property Code ("CPI") prohibits the unauthorized registration and / or use of distinctive signs (trademarks, domain names, commercial signs, company names) identical or similar to the distinctive signs of the Olympic and Paralympic Games and provides further measures such as, for example, the seizure of products violating intellectual property rights, the withdrawal from the market of the same, the imposition of penalties for new violations, the publication of the decision and compensation for damages (see articles 12, 20, 22 and 121 et seq. CPI).
• Art. 8 (3) CPI (Well-known signs)
Article 8 Paragraph 3 CPI expressly reserves to the organizers of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, or requires their consent, to register and use as a trademark the well-known signs used in the sports field (which include the and identifiers of the Games), as well as images that reproduce trophies (which also include Olympic and Paralympic medals), the names and acronyms of events (including Olympic and Paralympic events), as well as the characteristic emblems of these.
Therefore, pursuant to this article of the CPI, third parties are prohibited from registering and using such Olympic Properties as a trademark.
Art. 2.598 Civil Code (Unfair Competition)
Article 2.598 of the Civil Code typifies, prohibiting them, the types of acts of unfair competition including the use of names or distinctive signs capable of producing confusion with the names or distinctive signs legitimately used by others, the servile imitation of products of a competitor or any other act capable of creating confusion with the products and with the activity of a competitor, the appropriation of merits or even the undue connection with the Olympic event that enjoys visibility, and also the phenomena of so-called parasitic unfair competition and, more generally, any conduct that is deceptive and contrary to the principles of professional correctness.
Therefore, the companies operating in the market are required to have rules of correctness and loyalty, so that no one takes advantage, in the diffusion and placement of their products, from the use of methods contrary to commercial ethics.
• Legislative Decree no. 146 of 2007 (Unfair commercial practices)
The discipline relating to unfair commercial practices between businesses and consumers (in particular Article 21 of Legislative Decree No. 146 of 2007) establishes that a commercial practice that contains information that is not true to the truth or that is considered misleading, and therefore prohibited , even if in fact correct, even in its overall presentation, may induce or is likely to mislead the average consumer with regard to one or more of the following elements and, in any case, may induce or is suitable to induce the consumer to assume a commercial decision that he would not otherwise have made:
the. the extent of the professional's commitments (i.e. of companies and freelancers exercising regulated professions), the reasons for the commercial practice and the nature of the sales process, any declaration or symbol relating to the direct or indirect sponsorship or approval of the professional or of the product;
ii. the nature, qualifications and rights of the trader or his agent, such as identity, assets, abilities, status, recognition, affiliation or connections and industrial, commercial or intellectual property rights or awards and recognitions.
• Law no. 633 of 1941 (Copyright Law)
Intellectual works of a creative nature belonging to literature, music, figurative arts, architecture, theater and cinema are protected under the law on copyright, whatever the manner or form of expression and therefore, among these, there is also any creativity linked to the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Computer programs as literary works are also protected under the Berne Convention on the protection of literary and artistic works ratified and enforced by law no. 399, as well as databases which, due to the choice or arrangement of the material, constitute an intellectual creation of the author
The author, or the owner of the economic exploitation rights of the protected work, has, among others, the exclusive right to use, reproduce and economically exploit the work and may prohibit unauthorized third parties from improper reproduction and any use. of the protected work.
• Art. 31 et seq. of the CPI (Protection of designs or models)
In the Italian legal system, design or model is defined as the shape of a product or the design that is reproduced on a surface. Therefore, the definition of design or model also includes Olympic and Paralympic graphic logos and figurative trademarks, as well as any design or ornament connected to the Games, which can be protected with a design or model registration.
As required by art. 41 CPI, the registration of a design or model gives the owner the exclusive right to use it and to prohibit third parties from using, without his consent, any design or model that produces the same general impression in the informed user.
Therefore, the manufacture, offer, marketing, import, export or use of a product in which the design or model is incorporated or to which it is applied is prohibited, or the possession of such product for these ends.
4. Special legislation for the protection of Olympic and Paralympic IP
Effective protection of Intellectual Property rights in view of and during the course of the Olympic and Paralympic Games is essential to guarantee the exclusivity of the rights of the Olympic Partners and the protection against the attempts of those who, without any right or authorization, intend to benefit. from an undue association with the Games to gain commercial advantage (known as Ambush Marketing).
To guarantee the effectiveness of this protection, the International Olympic Committee requires the host city and, through it, the host country, by contract, to issue special legislation in order to strengthen the protection offered by the aforementioned ordinary legal instruments. or a "global legislation in the host country that provides adequate and timely protection against ambush marketing, the sale of unauthorized tickets and violations of marketing rights".
The objectives that the Olympic legislation proposes to pursue coincide in fact with those of Olympic marketing in respect of which they constitute a form of protection and safeguard, that is to protect the exclusive rights of the Olympic and Paralympic partners and to ensure that those who do not financially support the Olympic and Paralympic Games cannot profit from the Games themselves, as well as ensure that the public who purchases a product that bears the Olympic and Paralympic brands gets a quality product that is actually associated with the Olympic Games and prevent any individual or company to use the Olympic Properties to mislead the public by creating the false impression that there is an association with the Games.
In this scenario, the decree-law of 11 March 2020, n. 16, coordinated with the conversion law 8 May 2020, n. 31, bearing: "Urgent provisions for the organization and conduct of the Milano Cortina 2026 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games and the Turin 2021-2025 ATP finals, as well as the prohibition of parasitic activities".
The special Italian legislation reinforces the existing ordinary legislation on the protection of industrial and intellectual property by reserving the use of the Olympic Properties exclusively to those entitled to it and expressly prohibiting registration as a trademark, for any class of products or services, in any language, of words or references directed in any case to recall the Olympic symbol, the Olympic Games and related events which, due to their objective characteristics, may indicate a connection with the organization or conduct of the Olympic events, including the words "Olympic" and “Olimpiade” and “Milano Cortina 2026” and equivalent expressions. It also contains the prohibition of carrying out parasitic, fraudulent, deceptive or misleading advertising and marketing activities, known as Ambush Marketing and the provision of specific sanctions and measures against such unfair commercial practices.
In particular, art. 5-bis of that law provides that:
• The use of the Olympic Properties is reserved exclusively for the International Olympic Committee, the Italian National Olympic Committee, the Organizing Committee of the Games, the Society referred to in Article 3 as well as those expressly authorized in writing by the International Olympic Committee.
• The Olympic symbol (emblem), defined in the annex to the Treaty of Nairobi of 26 September 1981, ratified in accordance with the law of 24 July 1985, no. 434, cannot be registered as a trademark for any class of products or services, with the exception of cases of request or express written authorization from the International Olympic Committee.
• The above prohibition also applies to signs that contain, in any language, words or direct references in any case to recall the Olympic symbol, the Olympic Games and related events which, due to their objective characteristics, may indicate a connection with the organization or conduct of Olympic events. The prohibition applies in any case to the words "Olimpico" and "Olimpiade", in any ending and language, as well as to "Milano Cortina", also in the extended form "Cortina d'Ampezzo", in combination with the year 2026, therein including the variants "twenty twenty six" and "two thousand twenty six".
• Registrations made in violation of this article are void for all purposes of the law.
Art. 10 of that law also states that:
• Parasitic, fraudulent, deceptive or misleading advertising and marketing activities carried out in relation to the organization of the Games, not authorized by the organizers and with the aim of obtaining an economic or competitive advantage, are prohibited.
• They therefore constitute prohibited parasitic advertising and marketing activities:
a) The creation of a link, even indirect, between a trademark or other distinctive sign and the Games capable of misleading the public as to the identity of the official sponsors;
b) The misrepresentation or declaration in one's advertisement of being an official sponsor of the Games;
c) The promotion of one's own brand or other distinctive sign through any action, not authorized by the organizer, which is suitable to attract the attention of the public, carried out on the occasion of the Games and capable of generating the erroneous impression in the public that the perpetrator of the conduct is a sponsor of the sporting event or fair itself;
d) The sale and advertising of products or services illegally marked, even only in part, with the Games logo or with other distinctive signs capable of misleading the public about the logo itself and giving rise to the erroneous perception of any connection with the event or with its organizer or with the subjects authorized by him.
Finally, pursuant to art. 12 of that law, the improper use of the Olympic Properties is classified as an administrative offense subject to a pecuniary sanction from 100,000 euros to 2.5 million euros, unless the conduct constitutes a crime or a more serious administrative offense. It is also envisaged, by the Guardia di Finanza, the seizure or description during the Games of everything produced, marketed, used or disseminated in violation of the prohibitions set out in the law.
The official text of the Decree-Law 11 March 2020, n. 16 is available at the following link: https://www.gazzettaufficiale.it/eli/gu/2020/05/12/121/sg/pdf
5. Ambush Marketing
As can be seen, the expression Ambush Marketing includes any intentional and unintentional attempt to create a false or unauthorized Olympic and Paralympic Games trade association with the Olympic Movement in general and ultimately includes: i. the use by a non-partner company of original and creative strategies to generate a false association with the Olympic Games, ii. The activities of non-partner companies that intentionally or unintentionally interfere with the legitimate marketing activities of Olympic Partners or the parasitic, deceptive, fraudulent promotional and / or marketing activities intended as parallel activities to those carried out by authorized economic or non-economic entities by the organizers of the Olympic Games in order to obtain an economic profit, iii. the violation by a non-partner company of the various laws that protect the use of distinctive signs and images related to the Olympic Games, or, in the absence of authorization, advertise, hold for trade, sell or otherwise put products into circulation and / or services using the Olympic Properties designed to mislead the consumer on the existence of a license, authorization or other form of association, even indirect, between the product or service and the IOC and the organizers of the Olympic and Paralympic Games or with Games themselves.
The breadth of this definition, however, makes it clear that it is a very broad and constantly evolving phenomenon which includes strategies and activities of the most varied types that can create, even unintentionally, an unauthorized association with the Olympic and Paralympic event that Italian law prohibits and the Organizing Committee of the Games intends to pursue and promptly repress.
@ October 2020 Milano Cortina 2026 All rights reserved.
This document contains guidelines for the protection of Olympic Properties in Italy. The guidelines may be revised and supplemented later, where necessary.