Olympus/BetOlimp Challenge Patent Office Over Trademark Dispute

Olympus / BetOlimp is challenging the attempts of the local patent office to strip its trademark protection from the betting operator.

Russian media outlet Rapsi announced on Tuesday that Bookmakers Self-Regulatory Organisation (SRO) president Darina Denisova had lodged a legal challenge to a Rospatent decision that invalidated the Russian-licensed bookmaker Olympus trademark of OLIMP.

In May, Rospatent, a government agency formally known as the Russian Federal Intellectual Property Service, invalidated the trademark of BK Olimp LLC following an appeal from the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC).

The ROC claimed that the trademark of OLIMP infringed the intellectual property of the International Olympic Committee, which includes variants on the term ‘ Olympic’ as well as trademarks such as the famous five-ring logo. The IOC is notorious for defending what it sees as its intellectual property on entities as small as Greek-themed restaurants that have been operating for decades, particularly in host cities during the run-up to the games.

The bookmaker argued that there were a variety of other cases of Russian organisations  using the word Olympus, including a publishing house and hip-hop artist Timati, which no one identifies with the quadrennial athletic competition. (There is also Olympic Entertainment Group, the Eastern European gaming company, who has evaded the wrath of the IOC for some reason.) However Rospatent sided with the ROC, recalling that the bookmaker’s emblem featured a laurel wreath, the reward awarded at the ancient Olympics. Rospatent concluded that there was some connection between customers and the bookmaker and the IOC, despite the lack of any affiliation with the organisation by the bookmaker.

Rospatent’s Patent Disputes Chamber has set for November 11 a preliminary hearing on the matter. Although Russian intellectual property courts have sometimes pushed back against over-reaching IOC trademarks, such instances usually involve only allegedly infringing terms, not logos like those in the BetOlimp logo.

Denisova is not just the president of Bookmakers SRO, as she holds the trademark of OLIMP in Russia. In other states, including the US and the Czech Republic, Denisova has submitted similar trademark requests, although the US patent was scrapped in November 2018.

Russia’s willingness to cave in to the demands of the IOC may reflect the fact that the IOC is currently considering whether Russia will be allowed to take part in the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. Due to the country’s history of doping their competitors and then mucking with the test findings, Russian athletes were prohibited from participating under their own flag at the 2018 Winter Olympics.

Russia’s Olympic suspension was lifted in September 2018, but the IOC cautioned last month that a “fresh look” at Russian participation in 2020 was warranted after the World Anti-Doping Agency reported even more’ inconsistencies’ in Russian doping results.

BetOlimp’s Olympic hassles make one wonder if the IOC is now going to follow the Russian bookmaker Marathon, whose logo also includes laurel-looking leaves, and the business is named after the Greek fight that inspired the long-distance marquee event of the Olympic.