USOC Email to Minnesota Business Owner

From: Karissa Johnson

Sent: Wednesday, July 20, 2016 6:20 AM

To: [Name Redacted]  <>

Subject: Trademark rules


I am hoping to understand better the rules related to social media use of the term Olympics and related terms.

I understand my business cannot have any Olympic-themed events or anything. But what I’m confused about is whether we can discuss the Olympics?

For example:

  • Did you watch the Olympics last night?
  • Did you catch so-and-so’s performance in the 400 meter yesterday?
  • What is your favorite Olympic running event to watch?

Thank you,

Karissa Johnson

Karissa Johnson
Head Mom, Moms on the Run

Connect with us:

From: [Name Redacted] <>
Date: Wednesday, July 20, 2016
Subject: REQUEST to post via social media
To: Karissa Johnson
Cc: [Name Redacted]  <>, [Name Redacted]  <>

Hi Karissa,

That’s a great question, and one that that we are asked frequently as it gets closer to Olympic and Paralympic Games. The U.S. Olympic Committee (“USOC”) understands the growing excitement and conversation about the Games and the athletes who will represent our country in Rio, and encourages individuals, news media outlets, and official Team USA sponsors to post about the U.S. Olympic Team Trials, the Olympic Games, Team USA athletes and their exciting sports performances.  However, commercial entities that are not Team USA sponsors should not be posting about the Trials or Games on their corporate social media accounts.  This restriction includes posting photos from the Olympic Trials and the use of Olympic trademarks in hashtags such as #RIO2016 or #TeamUSA.

The USOC recognizes that the nature of social media encourages participants to talk about current events and hot topics.  But unless a company or organization’s primary business is disseminating news and information, the company’s social media platforms (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, SnapChat, Instagram, etc.) are commercial in nature, serving to promote the company or brand; to raise the brand’s profile and public opinion about the company or organization; and/or to increase sales, membership or donations.  Thus, any use of Olympic or Paralympic trademarks or terminology by a non-media company – whether in traditional advertising, on its website, or through social media – is considered commercial and is prohibited without the USOC’s permission.

Because the USOC receives no government funding to support Team USA’s preparation for and participation in the Games, the USOC generates those funds primarily through official sponsors, suppliers, licensees and donors. Official corporate partners provide critical funding for Team USA and therefore may use USOC trademarks to convey that support and association with the Team.  When others use USOC trademarks without proper authorization, it creates a disincentive for our partners to continue funding Team USA in exchange for those exclusive rights

You did not mention the nature of your business, but unless you are a news agency or an official USOC partner, I would ask that you  refrain from posting about the U.S. Olympic Team Trials or the Rio 2016 Olympic Games from your corporate social media accounts.  Instead, we encourage you to show your support for the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Teams by following Team USA on social media and posting about the Team and the Games from your individual or personal social media accounts.  Thank you in advance for your support.

[Name Redacted]  | Marketing and Legal Affairs
United States Olympic Committee
1 Olympic Plaza
Colorado Springs, Colorado 80909
+1 719-331-8409


Leave a Public Comment