Real Olympics to Redneck Olympics: Drop the Name, Y'all - Legally Weird
Legally Weird - The FindLaw Legal Curiosities Blog

Real Olympics to Redneck Olympics: Drop the Name, Y'all

It turns out the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) isn't too amused by Hebron, Maine's first annual Redneck Olympics--a weekend filled with wife-carrying, bobbing for pigs' feet, and lawnmower races.

Under the guise of protecting its intellectual property, the USOC has threatened event organizer Harold Brooks, warning him to drop the name "Olympics" or else.

Ready to battle, he gave them a big, fat "no."

Despite his willingness to fight for the right to call his games the Redneck Olympics, Harold Brooks is ultimately fighting a muddy uphill battle.

Though it is a historical term that refers to a series of competitions, under the Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act, the USOC has exclusive intellectual property rights to the word "Olympic"--a right that it has heavily and successfully enforced over the years.

This, however, doesn't mean that the future of the Redneck Olympics is without hope.

Brooks correctly told the Bangor Daily News that the games are a parody, which is an allowable defense to trademark infringement.

Additionally, when Congress granted these exclusive rights, it put a limit on the kinds of uses that constitute infringement.

The use of the word "Olympic" is only impermissible when it "tend[s] to cause confusion or mistake, to deceive, or to falsely suggest a connection with the [USOC]..."

Putting aside confusion as to why the Redneck Olympics exist in Maine, are you confused or mistaken as to its origin? Do you think the real Olympics have endorsed the games? Or is the USOC just being overly zealous, and Harold Brooks is in the right?

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