Russian bookmaker Olympus/BetOlimp is fighting the local patent office’s efforts to strip the betting operator of its trademark protection.
On Tuesday, Russian media outlet Rapsi reported that Darina Denisova, president of the Bookmakers Self-Regulatory Organization (SRO), had filed a legal challenge of a Rospatent ruling that invalidated the OLIMP trademark of Russian-licensed bookmaker Olympus.
Rospatent, a government agency formally known as the Russian Federal Service for Intellectual Property, invalidated BK Olimp LLC’s trademark in May following a request by the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC).
The ROC argued that the OLIMP trademark infringed on the International Olympic Committee’s intellectual property, which includes variations on the word ‘Olympic’ as well as symbols such as the famous five-linked-ring logo. The IOC is notorious for defending what it views as its intellectual property, particularly in host cities during the run-up to the games, on entities as small as Greek-themed restaurants that have been operating for decades.
The bookmaker argued that there were any number of other examples of Russian entities using the term Olympus, including a publishing house and hip hop star Timati, which no one associates with the quadrennial athletic competition. (There’s also Eastern European gaming operator Olympic Entertainment Group, who for some reason has evaded the IOC’s wrath.)
But Rospatent sided with the ROC, noting that the bookmaker’s logo featured a laurel wreath, the prize awarded in the ancient Olympic Games. Rospatent concluded that consumers would perceive there was some association with the bookmaker and the IOC, despite the bookmaker lacking any affiliation with the group.
Rospatent’s Chamber of Patent Disputes has scheduled a preliminary hearing on the matter for November 11. While Russian intellectual property courts have occasionally pushed back against IOC trademark overreach, those instances usually involved only allegedly infringing words, not symbols such as those in the BetOlimp logo.
Denisova (pictured) is not merely the Bookmakers SRO president, as she personally holds the OLIMP trademark in Russia. Denisova has filed similar trademark applications in other countries, including the US and the Czech Republic, although the US application was scrapped in November 2018.
Russia’s willingness to cave to the IOC’s demands may reflect the fact that the IOC is currently weighing whether Russia will be allowed to participate in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. Russian athletes were barred from competing under their own flag at the 2018 Winter Olympics due to the country’s history of doping their athletes and then mucking with the lab results.
Russia’s Olympic suspension was lifted in September 2018 but last month the IOC warned that a “fresh look” at Russian participation in 2020 was warranted after the World Anti-Doping Agency revealed still more ‘inconsistencies’ in Russian doping data.
BetOlimp’s Olympic hassles make one wonder if the IOC will now go after Russian bookmaker Marathon, whose logo also features laurel-looking leaves and the company is named after the Greek battle that inspired the Olympic’s marquee long-distance race event.