Olympic Committee Warns Consumers about Trademark Infringements

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Olympic Committee issues trademark warning

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TORONTO - The Canadian Olympic Committee is cautioning consumers about a marketing campaign it says infringes on Olympic trademarks.

The organization said it considers a line of North Face products, advertised as its "International Collection", uses Olympic-themed advertising without being a sponsor and is misleading Canadians who may think they are supporting the country's Olympic program with their purchase.

The North Face isn't an official Olympic sponsor, supporter or licensee of the Canadian Olympic Team, the Committee said, adding it expects the company to "take immediate action to remedy the situation."

North Face, an outdoor and sports clothing retailer, said in an email Wednesday that the company has long supported Canadian freeskiing athletes, including Canadian Freeskiing athletes Mike Riddle and Yuki Tsubota.

"We are not an official sponsor of the Canadian Olympic Committee or Team Canada and never indicated we were," the company said, declining to comment further.

Christopher Overholt, chief executive officer of the Canadian Olympic Committee, said in a statement that the Committee "will vigorously defend its brand, including all its sponsors and licensees, against ambush marketing attempts to mislead Canadians."

"I'm concerned that Canadians have purchased the North Face apparel assuming that by doing so they are supporting the Canadian Olympic Team, when that is just not the case."

The Committee watches for instances of what it describes as ambush marketing, an advertising technique in which companies try to cash in on events like the Olympics without actually paying to be officially affiliated.

"Olympics are the 'creme de la creme' of sponsorships and all other sponsorships are sort of below that," said Monica LaBarge, a marketing professor at Queen's University. …