UK: LOCOG To Police Keyword Bidding In Run Up To London 2012

Last Updated: 8 August 2011
Article by Lee Curtis

This article was originally published in the July/August edition of the ITMA Review.

The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games ("LOCOG") recently announced that it intends to actively police online keyword bidding on protected Olympic terms in the run up to the Olympic Games in London next year.

Although LOCOG has not yet formally announced its online advertising policy, this announcement is a clear indication that LOCOG intends to attempt to control possible attempts at so-called ambush marketing through online keyword advertising campaigns.

Ambush marketing involves promotional and advertising activity usually centred on well known sporting events by firms which are not official sponsors of the events. An early example of ambush marketing occurred at the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984 when Kodak sponsored television broadcasts of the games as well, as the US track team, despite Fuji being an official sponsor. The football World Cup in South Africa last year saw controversy when a marketing campaign saw thirty six women wearing orange dresses attend the Holland versus Denmark game to promote BAVARIA beer.

With the issue of ambush marketing in mind and its potential detrimental effects on potential licensing revenue to be derived from the Games, The London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act 2006 grants LOCOG the power to prevent the creation of any unauthorised association between a business, goods or services and the London 2012 Olympic Games or the Paralympic Games, in the course of trade. Such powers are in addition to those granted under the Olympic Symbol (Protection) Act 1995 which protect the Olympic Symbol, the word Olympic, Citius Altius Fortius and other associated terms amongst others.

Whether an authorised association has been made will be assessed on a case by case basis, however, the Act specifies certain 'Listed Expressions' and states that a court may take these into particular account when determining if an association has been created. The Listed Expressions are: any two of the words: Games, Two Thousand and Twelve, 2012, Twenty-Twelve OR any word in the aforesaid list with one or more of the words: London, medals, sponsors, summer, gold, silver, bronze.

However, for some time, Google at least allows bidding on keyword terms in the United Kingdom which includes trade mark terms. Further, Google will only remove adverts if the specific ad text confuses users as to the origin of the advertised goods and services. This would suggest that there could at least be a means for ambush marketing to occur via keyword bidding either in relation to protected terms such as 'Games 2012', 'London Games' or more interestingly in relation to the trade marks of official sponsors. The question is does LOCOG have the means to prevent such actions?

The London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act 2006 prevents the creation of any unauthorised association between a business, goods or services and the London 2012 Olympic Games or the Paralympic Games, in the course of trade. Although the raft of recent keyword cases decided by the Court of Justice has not always laid down clear guidelines on the use of trade marks in keyword advertising, they have found that such activities do constitute use of a trade mark in the course of trade, which would appear the first hurdle LOCOG would have to overcome in any enforcement action through its powers under the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act 2006.

The next hurdle for LOCOG to overcome would be whether the keyword advert created an unauthorised association between a business, goods or services and the London 2012 Olympic Games or the Paralympic Games, a particular issue where the offending term did not visually appear in the keyword advert text. The Court of Justice has already held in a series of cases concerning keyword advertising that trade mark infringement should be held where:-

(i) a third party's ad suggests that there is an economic link between that third party and the trade mark proprietor; or

(ii) an ad is so vague concerning the origin of the goods or services that a normally informed and reasonably attentive internet user is unable to determine, on the basis of the advertising link and the commercial message attached to it, whether the advertiser is an unrelated third party or economically linked to that trade mark proprietor.

It would appear that creating a mere 'association' is a much easier hurdle to overcome than the above tests.

However, as with the issue of trade mark infringement and keyword advertising outlined in the Court of Justice decisions, it has still to be decided what limitations will be placed on the question of association. Will the mere bidding on a keyword such as 'London Games' which triggers an ad which does not include the said term but a third party brand of a non-official sponsor of the Games be found to create an association?

One could argue if the mere appearance of non-official brands in the vicinity of the London Olympic events is prohibited under the London Olympic Games and Paralympic Games Act 2006, unless the company is an official Tier 1 or Tier 2 sponsor, then equally the example of keyword advertising given in the aforementioned paragraph should also be prohibited, as would the use of official sponsor names or trade marks in such keywords.

However things pan out it is clear that LOCOG's recent announcement makes it clear that they will be actively policing this issue over the coming months and year. Let the Games begin!

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions