South East Wales

London 2012: Unauthorised Olympic branded goods seized

Thousands of unauthorised Olympic branded T-shirts and mugs have been seized by trading standards officers in Cardiff.

The action supports strict controls which only allow official sponsors to link themselves to the Games.

Shops and traders near the Millennium Stadium - which is hosting Olympic football - have also been warned.

Lawyer Lee Fisher claimed the ruling was causing problems for small firms who wanted to celebrate the event.

Brand protection

The T-shirts being seized feature phrases such as "Olympic drinking team" and the mugs are printed with the words: "If coffee drinking was an Olympic sport I'd be a gold medallist."

The seizure offers a glimpse into the world of brand protection, and brands do not get much bigger than the Olympics.

The use of the word Olympic, as well as the use of the rings, are banned for trading purposes at all times under specific criminal legislation.

There are also temporary guidelines in place within the vicinity of the Olympic venues.

In the case of Cardiff it covers around half of the city centre while the football matches are played.

The use of certain combinations of words such as London and games or 2012 and games are banned for trading purposes.

Ambush marketing

Image caption Shops and cafes have been warned about the use of Olympic branding in their premises

There are also guidelines governing street trading and advertising.

Handley Brustad, a trading standards officer with Cardiff council, is helping to enforce them on behalf of the Olympic organisers.

He said the big challenge will be trying to prevent ambush marketing, where companies try to piggyback onto the Olympics by handing out flyers and items like branded hats.

He said: "The eyes of the world are going to be on Cardiff. We are going to show it in the best light possible.

"Whatever they come up with I'm sure we will deal with it."

Lee Fisher, an intellectual property lawyer with Morgan Cole solicitors in Cardiff, said the aim of the regulations is to protect the income generated from official Olympic sponsors.

However, he said: "It is one of the most restrictive regimes to have been put around any event, but particularly the Olympics, in terms of the clear ban around areas where the Olympics are taking place.

"I can see the justification for it but it is causing problems for small business who are not necessarily trying to make money but trying to enter into the spirit of things."

Some traders in Cardiff claim there has been confusion but trading standards officials say there has been extensive consultation and that the intention with the enforcement is not to get in the way of any local trading.

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