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14. April 2019 | Trademark Law, Law of unfair competition | by Dr. Christian Hadeyer und Patrick Thaller

German Supreme Court: Sportswear may be promoted as “ready for the Olympics”

The German Supreme Court held that the use of terms such as “olympiareif”, the German expression meaning “ready for the Olympics” is not prohibited by law when promoting sportswear. This is the result of the judgement (7th March 2019, I ZR 225/17).

With reference to the background it is to mention that the Olympic symbols as well as the terms “Olympics” and “Olympic” enjoy a special protection by law in countries such as Germany and Austria and are only allowed to be used for promotion aspects if the Olympic Committee approves it.

The use of terms as “olympiareif” / “ready for the Olympics” concerning sportswear is not illegal as it does not lead to a confusion between these products and the products and services which are offered by the International Olympic Committee.

Furthermore, the promotion does not take unfair advantage of the reputation of the Olympic Games.

The limit to taking unfair advantage would be exceeded when the appreciation of the Olympic Games would be used in order to promote certain products and their characteristics, if the extent was only tolerated by sponsors or brands of which articles are worn during the Olympic Games.

For example, this would be the case if somebody promotes his products, which have a connection to the Olympic Games, not only by providing topic-related terms but by mentioning words or showing scenes which are closely connected with the Olympic Games.

In the discussed case, the defendant actually did promote the products which are closely related to the Olympic Games. Nevertheless, terms as “olympiareif” / “ready for the Olympics” just describe extraordinary performances when concerning special products.