Carrefour is in a bit of trouble again — but not the same sort of trouble as what happened a few months ago. This time, its Nanjing outlet has been caught by regulators for "illegally" using the Olympic rings and the Five Friendlies together with its own logo in the store. A store manager clarified that the store had done so to show their support for the Beijing Olympics, but "clearly there were a few things that we failed to consider and if so, we are happy to correct them". As a regulator explained, every instance of the use of an Olympic emblem has to be approved by BOCOG and no approval had been granted to Carrefour. Earlier this year, shortly after the anti-Carrefour riots, the French retailer’s Beijing outlets were also quick to "show support" for the Beijing Olympics by having their staff wear caps with the Olympic rings — only to get rapped soon after for "illegal usage".
As an IP lawyer, these restrictions are old news to me. Moreover, I always figured that everyone else here had gotten the message already and that any misuse of Olympic symbols was done with full knowledge of the law.
I’m not so sure anymore. I have no idea who knew what in this Carrefour case, but I have talked to a couple of people recently who, with apparent sincerity, claimed that their actions (which were clearly in violation of the rules on the use of Olympic symbols) were in good faith.
I understand that a lot of enterprises out there want to show their national spirit — it’s good for business. And I guess it’s possible that in their zeal they have not done their homework on applicable restrictions.
This is my feeble attempt to cut down on the cynicism that usually drives this blog. How am I doing?