Trade-Marketing

The 2010 Winter Olympics are long over, but a lecture on copyright has me thinking back to two cases of controversial slogans. In a game of trademark taboo (please tell me I can still use that word?), Lulu Lemon, created a line of unofficial Olympic clothing in support of a “Cool Sporting Event That Takes Place in British Columbia Between 2009 & 2011.” Clever marketing plan for capitalizing on the Winter Games? Yes. Funny? Definitely. But also yet another example of the absurdity of current copyright laws. While the words (barely) falling between the lines – Winter, Olympics, Vancouver, 2010 – seem in themselves strong examples of the direction of intellectual propoerty laws (under exactly what conditions can seasons be taken out of the public domain?), it is the Vancouver Olympic Committee’s successful trademarking of “with glowing hearts” and “des plus brillants exploits” from O Canada that truly scares me. What better illustrates market logic seeping into the public sphere than the suggestion of removing the national anthem itself from the commons? While the trademark ostensibly prevents only (other) commercial use of the phrase and I am hardly one to defend nationalism, I am left contemplating the implications of so directly ‘protecting’ what should belong to all with the logic of exclusivity, of the very possibility of classifying a season as “intellectual property”.

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