CA rules for International Olympic Committee in trademark suit

By Benjamin Pulta

May 6, 2024, 6:33 pm

MANILA – The Court of Appeals (CA) has affirmed the ruling of the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) turning down a petition filed by a local sports and leisure retail store over the use of the "Olympic Village" trademark.

In its 28-page decision dated April 30, 2024, the appellate court's Fourth Division denied the petition filed by Olympic Village Enterprises, Inc. (OVEI) president Juanito Gervasio against the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

The IOC, a Switzerland-based organization that finances Olympic events through the contributions of its sponsors and licensees, opposed the registration by the Olympic Village, citing the 1981 Nairobi Treaty on the Protection of the Olympic Symbol.

The sports goods firm had filed for registration of the trademark "Olympic Village" in 1991 and filed for the registration of the composite mark "Olympic Village" and the logo in 2010.

"The subject marks are confusingly similar, thus there is a likelihood of confusion between them," the court said in dismissing the petition of the local firm.

"(T)his court holds that the petitioner's registration is void as it contravenes the IP Code, and thus, the petitioner acquired no ownership rights in the first place," the court said.

"Considering the global heritage of the Olympic Games and the Philippines' active participation therein, which, to stress, date back as early as 1924, the petitioner, therefore, cannot feign ignorance on the creation and prior use of the Olympic mark. Accordingly, it is reasonable to conclude that the petitioner was totally mindful of the prior existence, use and creation of the Olympic mark when he first coined the ‘Olympic Village’ mark for his sports retail store. To reiterate, a well-known mark need not be registered in the Philippines to be accorded protection." (PNA)