| LONDON, June 1
LONDON, June 1 Martyn Routledge first noticed
businesses springing up in east London near the Olympic Park
with the name "Olympic" on their shopfront 18 months ago during
his daily bike ride to work.
First it was a furniture store, then a kebab takeaway, then
it extended to hairdressers, garages and cafes.
"I looked around and saw more and more cropping up,"
Routledge, a creative director at design company Open Agency,
Then some of the names began to disappear, or the letter "O"
was dropped or covered up.
The Olympic police had begun spotting the names too.
Businesses hoping for some Olympic glamour to rub off on
them have found themselves in breach of strict copyright laws
imposed by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and
enforced by the London organising committee (LOCOG).
The word "Olympic" and the rings logo are among the most
recognisable trademarks in the world - and the most heavily
The managing director of the "Olympic Internet Cafe", within
walking distance of the main stadium, says he has received two
visits from authorities telling him to change the name despite
having it above the entrance for more than 10 years.
Only those names that pre-date 1995, well before London won
its bid in 2005, are exempt.
"My son is a sportsman and he said 'Olympics' was a good
name," said Ahsan Malik, whose tweed jacket and clipped
moustache contrasted with the drab decor of the place.
"I am suffering as a business ... I don't want to change.
"The name is established and it's in the telephone
Laws have also been put in place to protect sponsors from
ambush marketing, companies that try to associate their products
or services with the Olympics without paying for the privilege.
Terms such as Games and 2012 cannot be combined with London,
summer, bronze, silver or gold in adverts or on goods; and
certain images cannot be used, such as an Olympic-style flame.
Advertising within about 300 metres of stadiums will be
policed during the Games, which start on July 27.
Ever more sophisticated ambush marketing, or piggy-backing,
by larger companies at international sports events - such as a
brewery company giving fans orange lederhosen at the 2006 soccer
World Cup in Germany - has put authorities on heightened alert.
LOCOG argues the laws are needed to protect sponsors'
interests otherwise taxpayers would have to pick up the tab,
beyond the 9.3 billion pounds already forked out.
Hundreds of infringements have already been recorded.
The 11 international companies who sponsor the Olympics have
paid nearly $1 billion for the chance to have their brand
associated with the Games and the Olympic rings for a four-year
cycle which covers one winter and one summer Games.
A further 700 million pounds has been paid by 44 domestic
sponsors to help LOCOG meet its 2 billion pounds bill to put on
Professor Simon Chadwick of Coventry University Business
School said there is nothing stopping local firms chasing
business, trying to target tourists, as long as they are
"My advice to businesses is rather than becoming frustrated
that they can't use the word Olympic, they just think about
other ways in which they can reach out to tourists, visiting
officials, to members of the media, commercial partners who will
be in town," he said. "They've just got to careful in the
wording and imagery they use."
But he fears the rules are so strict small firms may
accidentally fall foul of them.
"You can imagine your local newsagent somewhere in Stratford
thinking, what a great idea - we could make a handmade poster
saying 'Olympic special: buy two cans of Pepsi, get a third can
free', but who would fall foul of the law twice (because
Coca-Cola is a sponsor)," Chadwick said.
Breaches can result in fines of 20,000 pounds.
London 2012 was billed as a catalyst for the regeneration of
the previously run-down area around Stratford, an ethnic hotpot
crippled with high unemployment and social deprivation levels.
The Olympic Internet Cafe's managing director said he hoped
business would pick-up during the Games, but many local firms
fear visitors will bypass their outlets.
"I have not seen anyone come here to have their hair done
because we have the name Olympics," said Mary Boadu, who has
owned "D-Olympics" hairdressers since 1997.
"Those who turn up for the Games will have had their hair
done before they arrive."
Restaurants and shops were predicted most likely to take
advantage of the expected extra footfall during the Games.
Formans salmon curer used to be on the site of what became
the new main stadium before it was forced to move. It set up its
new building just yards away across the waterway with some of
the best views of the Olympic Park.
It has built hospitality suites and plans to bring in a few
motor boats for guests keen on "VIP socialising".
"I think people have been quite slow to work out what to do,
how to do it, and have been afraid of the scary LOCOG rules, but
my feeling is that the excitement will happen," said owner Lance
"A lot of local businesses have seen this thing on their
doorstep and they've watched this thing unfold and there is
certainly a feeling of 'what have the Olympics done for us?'
"I just don't think life is like that: you can't sit back
and expect the thing to arrive and shower you with gold."
(Editing by Peter Rutherford)