Your Friendly Reminder to Avoid the Temptation to Use USOPC TrademarksAugust 9, 2021

The race for the most gold medals during the 2020 Summer Olympics (informally “Tokyo 2020” and more formally “the Games of the XXXII Olympiad”) has now come to a close, and what a spectacle it was!

Individuals, news outlets, and official Olympic sponsors are generally free to post and tweet about the games and athletes during the roughly month-long blackout period which began on July 13 and ended on August 10. In 2016, Athletes had recently been given some leeway to take similar actions. However, those not so lucky to form part of the aforementioned list should take care not market their products in a manner which causes confusion with official United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) trademarks. These marks include:

  • Olympic, Reg. No. 968,566;
  • United States Olympic Committee, Reg. No. 980,734;
  • Paralympic, Reg. No. 1,892,385;
  • Olympian, Reg. No. 1,734,781;
  • U.S. Olympic Team Trials, Reg. No., 2,393,845;
  • Team USA, Reg. No. 2,774,352;
  • Go[ing] for the Gold, Reg. Nos. 3,613,818 and 3,914,587
  • Pan Am Games, Reg. No. 3,442,439;
  • Let the Games Begin, Reg. No. 3,914,588;
  • Various marks which read “Road to” followed by the city names in which the Olympics have been held (g. Road to Rio, Reg. No., 4,813,189);
  • Various marks which read the city names in which the Olympics have been held followed by the year the Olympics were held (e.g. Tokyo 2020, Reg. No. 4,662,320);
  • Logos and graphics related to the U.S. Olympic teams and the games themselves, (e.g., the Sydney 2000 logo, Reg. No. 4,402,858).

Unlike most National Olympic and Paralympic Committees around the world, the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee does not receive government funding to support athlete programs. The USOPC thus trains, funds, and sends Team USA to the Olympic and Paralympic Games every four years largely through corporate sponsorships given by its corporate sponsors. Congress granted the USOPC extremely broad rights to control commercial uses of USOPC IP in the United States by way of Rule 40.

Rule 40 is a by-law in the Olympic Charter stating that only approved sponsors may reference “Olympic-related terms”. It was introduced by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to prevent so-called ambush marketing by companies who are not official sponsors and to sanction links between athletes and unofficial sponsors during a blackout period starting nine days before the opening of the Olympic Games and continuing until three days after the closing ceremony.

The federal law also gives allows the USOPC to file a lawsuit against any entity using such intellectual property for commercial purposes without consent. The USOPC has been known to aggressively police its marks. For example, a now dissolved Illinois company formerly going by the name “Olympic Meat Packers” was forced to change its name to “Olympia Meat Packers”, as “Olympia” refers to the location in Greece which hosted the ancient Olympic games every four years and was thus not a trademark the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee intended to enforce.

If you have questions about the USOPC’s brand usage guidelines, the USOPC recommends you consult an intellectual property attorney. For additional information, please visit or you can contact me directly via email at

Gregory “Lars” Gunnerson is a Intellectual Property Attorney in the Mechanical and Electrical Patent Practice Groups at McKee, Voorhees & Sease, PLC.

← Return to Filewrapper

Stay in Touch

Receive the latest news and updates from us and our attorneys.

Sign Up