Source: The Daily Telegraph
Author: Jacquelin Magnay
Locog asks the Middleton family to change parts of the Party Pieces website after an it took issue with the promotion of goods associated with the Games.
The company, run by the Duchess of Cambridge’s parents Carole and Michael, was looked at for potential breaches of the Olympic Act 2006, which makes it a criminal offence and a potential £20,000 fine for anyone who is not an official sponsor to capitalise commercially from the event.
The company website is advertising party goods under the heading “Celebrate the Games” and even has a ring toss game in the Olympic colours.
It is believed the company will have to change a page where there is imagery of a Union Flag-covered Olympic torch and a woman throwing a javelin under the strapline “Let the Games Begin”. Another problem was where the site refers to “Celebrate the Games” close to commercial sales of their products.
However a blog penned by the Duchess’s sister, Pippa Middleton, called the Party Times, with one post titled “Celebrate The Games & Support the GB Team!” was cleared by the Locog lawyers.
Officials from Locog’s street trading team investigated and cleared the rest of the website on Thursday afternoon.
A Locog official said: “There are no infringements and the products are fine. We will ask them to make minor changes to some copy.’’
The Party Pieces website has previously advertised products associated with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the Royal Wedding.
The Olympic enforcement officers have begun patrolling around venues nationwide to ensure traders are not illegally associating themselves with the Games.
The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (Locog) will enforce the act across the country to protect the intellectual copyright of words such as “gold”, “Games”, “2012”, “summer” and “London”.
“The standard practice is to issue a warning letter, but in blatant breaches or where the company refuses to co-operate we take it seriously,” a Locog spokeperson said.
Locog has raised £700 million from selling official branding rights to 55 companies and are particularly vigilant about protecting those rights.
The International Olympic Committee is equally sensitive about illegal use of the Olympic rings and the ring colours.
However, concerns have been raised that trading standards officials are applying licensing rules too strictly. Those penalised include a florist in Stoke who was told to take down five rings and a torch made from tissue paper and a butcher in Dorset who was ordered to remove some sausage rings that resembled the Games logo.
Hugh Robertson, the Olympics minister, warned that he did not want council trading standards officers to punish small retailers.
“I gave the commitment in Parliament when the Act came through that this would be carried out in a sensible and proportionate way and I stick by that,” he said this week. “You can only decide on a case–by–case basis; no one has been prosecuted yet.”
The Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt said of the application of the Olympic Act: “We want it to be sensible. Sponsors have been maligned, but they are paying for half the cost of the Games, without that support it would be costing the taxpayer a lot more.”
A Locog spokeswoman said: “We will act if there is a commercial tie-in in any way. We will ring and explain the obligations and most times this dialogue is friendly, people are usually doing it to be part of the fun, but companies are not allowed to promote an association with the Games if they are not a sponsor.”