The Italian Government's measures to protect the 2026 Milano Cortina Olympic Games and the ATP Turin Finals’ intangible assets.
For the upcoming Olympic Winter Games which will be hosted in Italy in 2026, the Italian Government has recently issued a draft proposal relating to the measures necessary for “the organization and management of the XXV Olympic Winter Games and the XIV Paralympic Winter Games 'Milano Cortina 2026' and for the organization and management of the 'ATP Turin 2021-2025 Finals'".
Considering the crucial role of distinctive signs for the organization and promotion of the Olympic Games, the Italian Government sets out several provisions dedicated to their protection.
In particular, Article 9 defines as Olympic properties the Olympic symbol, the flag, the motto, the emblems, the anthem, the identifying expressions of the Games, the designations, and the flames. The use of said Olympic properties will be expressly reserved to the International Olympic Committee (the “IOC”), the other organizing Olympic bodies, and to the entities that may be authorized to such purpose by the IOC itself.
In addition, Article 9 introduces an absolute impediment to the registration as trademark of:
- the Olympic symbol;
- any sign that includes words or references to the Olympic symbol, the Olympic Games or the relating events, which may create a link between the organization of the Olympic Games.
The impediment also refers to the words “Olympic” and “Olympics” in any language and form, as well as the combination of “Milano Cortina” and the year 2026.
The impediment will cease to have effect only as of 31 December 2026.
Article 10 provides that the same rules and impediments will apply in connection with the 2026 Paralympic Games and the symbol “Agitos”, which has represented the Paralympic Games since the Games of Athens in 2003.
Finally, additional provisions are aimed specifically at hindering the practice of ambush marketing in connection with high-profile sports events.
In this regard, Article 18 expressly prohibits ambush marketing in connection with national as well as international sports or trade fair events. The provision bars all ads that might generate confusion in the consumer on the identity of the events’ official sponsors, or an improper link between the company and the sports event. In particular, the draft currently identifies as ambush marketing:
- the creation of an indirect link between a trademark, or any other distinctive sign, and a national or international sports or trade fair event in order to mislead the consumer on the identity of the official sponsors;
- falsely stating that a company is an official sponsor of a national or international sports or trade fair event;
- promoting a trademark, or any other distinctive sign, in any manner that might generate a misconception on the company’s role as official sponsor of a national or international sports or trade fair event;
- selling and advertising of products or services unlawfully distinguished by a trademark or a logo that is connected to a national or international sports or trade fair event.
These latter provisions will also apply in connection with the ATP Finals, which will be hosted in Turin, Italy, from 2021 to 2025.
It looks like this draft proposal will be adopted in the form of a law decree for the urgent nature of the interests at stake; therefore the provisions described above will likely come into force in the near future, providing an effective protection to the distinctive signs associated with the Olympic Games, their image and commercial exploitation.