The International Olympic Committee and U.S. Olympic Committee have in place strict regulations regarding companies and athletes using social media. Almost all words and images relating to the Olympics and participating athletes are off limits to non-sponsoring companies. Even companies that sponsor an athlete, but not the Olympics, are unable to share celebratory messages using the athlete’s name. Participating athletes are affected as well, as trademark attorney Eric Perrott from Gerben Law Firm points out. “Athletes give up some freedoms of expression when they enter a contract agreeing to the Olympic charter to compete at the games,” he told BloombergBNA.
The punishments for a social media violation are harsh, but athletes give up some freedoms of expression when they enter a contract agreeing to the Olympic charter to compete at the games, said Eric Perrott, trademark attorney at Gerben Law Firm, PLLC.
“Every athlete knew going into it and must accept it, because it’s the Olympics,” Perrott said.
Even companies that sponsor an athlete, but are not paying the high price tag to be an official Olympic sponsor, may be violating the committee’s trademark rights if they tweet or share congratulatory messages using the athlete’s name, image, or a list of other Olympic-related terms.