I have to say I’m quite amazed and even a bit shocked to learn that the US Olympic Committee has gone after Raverly for using the word “Ravelympics”. Since this notice has gone out, many knitters, like myself, are outraged (over 2 million members on Ravelry).
For those of you who have not heard this news or read the notice sent to Casey Forbes, owner of Ravelry, here is the letter, reposted in its entirety for those of you who do not belog to Raverly. For those who do, you can head on over for the discussions going on here Click here.
Dear Mr. Forbes,
In March 14, 2011, my colleague, Carol Gross, corresponded with your attorney, Craig Selmach [sic], in regard to a pin listed as the “2010 Ravelympic Badge of Glory.” At that time, she explained that the use of RAVELYMPIC infringed upon the USOC’s intellectual property rights, and you kindly removed the pin from the website. I was hoping to close our file on this matter, but upon further review of your website, I found more infringing content.
By way of review, the USOC is a non-profit corporation chartered by Congress to coordinate, promote and govern all international amateur athletic activities in the United States. The USOC therefore is responsible for training, entering and underwriting U.S. Teams in the Olympic Games. Unlike the National Olympic Committees of many other countries, the USOC does not rely on federal funding to support all of its efforts. Therefore, in order to fulfill our responsibilities without the need for federal funding, Congress granted the USOC the exclusive right to use and control the commercial use of the word OLYMPIC a and any simulation or combination thereof in the United States, as well as the OLYMPIC SYMBOL. See the Olympic and Amateur Sports Act, 36 U.S.C. §220501 et seq. (the “Act”). (A copy of the relevant portion of the Act is enclosed for your convenience.) The Act prohibits the unauthorized use of the Olympic Symbol or the mark OLYMPIC and derivations thereof for any commercial purpose or for any competition, such as the one organized through your website. See 36 U.S.C. §220506(c). The USOC primarily relies on legitimate sponsorship fees and licensing revenues to support U.S. Olympic athletes and finance this country’s participation in the Olympic Games. Other companies, like Nike and Ralph Lauren, have paid substantial sums for the right to use Olympic-related marks, and through their sponsorships support the U.S. Olympic Team. Therefore, it is important that we restrict the use of Olympic marks and protect the rights of companies who financially support Team USA.
In addition to the protections of the Act discussed above, the USOC also owns numerous trademark registration that include the mark OLYMPIC. These marks therefore are protected under the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. §1051 et seq. Thus, Ravelry.com’s unauthorized use of the mark OLYMPIC or derivations thereof, such as RAVELYMPICS, may constitute trademark infringement, unfair competition and dilution of our famous trademarks.
The USOC would like to settle this matter on an amicable basis. However, we must request the following actions be taken.
1. Changing the name of the event, the “Ravelympics.”; The athletes of Team USA have usually spent the better part of their entire lives training for the opportunity to compete at the Olympic Games and represent their country in a sport that means everything to them. For many, the Olympics represent the pinnacle of their sporting career. Over more than a century, the Olympic Games have brought athletes around the world together to compete in an event that has come to mean much more than just a competition between the world’s best athletes. The Olympic Games represent ideals that go beyond sport to encompass culture and education, tolerance and respect, world peace and harmony.
The USOC is responsible for preserving the Olympic Movement and its ideals within the United States. Part of that responsibility is to ensure that Olympic trademarks, imagery and terminology are protected and given the appropriate respect. We believe using the name “Ravelympics” for a competition that involves an afghan marathon, scarf hockey and sweater triathlon, among others, tends to denigrate the true nature of the Olympic Games. In a sense, it is disrespectful to our country’s finest athletes and fails to recognize or appreciate their hard work.
It looks as if this is the third time that the Ravelympics have been organized, each coinciding with an Olympic year (2008, 2010, and 2012). The name Ravelympics is clearly derived from the terms “Ravelry” (the name of your website) and OLYMPICS, making RAVELYMPICS a simulation of the mark OLYMPIC tending to falsely suggest a connection to the Olympic Movement. Thus, the use of RAVELYMPICS is prohibited by the Act. Knowing this, we are sure that you can appreciate the need for you to re-name the event, to something like the Ravelry Games.
1. Removal of Olympic Symbols in patterns, projects, etc. As stated before, the USOC receives no funding from the government to support this country’s Olympic athletes. The USOC relies upon official licensing and sponsorship fees to raise the funds necessary to fulfill its mission. Therefore, the USOC reserves use of Olympic terminology and trademarks to our official sponsors, suppliers and licensees. The patterns and projects featuring the Olympic Symbol on Ravelry.com’s website are not licensed and therefore unauthorized. The USOC respectfully asks that all such patterns and projects be removed from your site.
For your convenience, we have listed some of the patterns featuring Olympic trademarks. However, this list should be viewed as illustrative rather than exhaustive. The USOC requests that all patterns involving Olympic trademarks be removed from the website. We further request that you rename various patterns that may not feature Olympic trademarks in the design but improperly use Olympic in the pattern name.
Thank you for your time and attention to this matter. We would appreciate a written reply to this letter by no later than June 19, 2012. If you would like to discuss this matter directly, please feel free to contact me at the number above, or you may reach my colleague, Carol Gross.
Office of the General Counsel
United States Olympic Committee
1 Olympic Plaza
Colorado Springs, CO 80909
But to say that we are disrespectful to the athletes and the whole Olympic event, I would have to counter to say they do not even have a clue as to what our “Ravelympics” is all about. As a knitting community this is not only highly anticipated event during the Olympics, but promotes team spirit, comradery, giving, sharing, learning and so much more. I believe Knit Purl Gurl’s response to this information says it all and I too echo her in saying, shame on you US Olympics Committee for writing the letter you wrote! You have no idea the hours we spend in creating hats, scarfs and afghans that are given to charity, yes, charity, that in turn is given to others from all over the world, including our military. How on earth is this being disrespectful to our country’s athletes! And further more, Ravelympics is not merely an US event, it’s a WORLDWIDE EVENT, and how do you think your letter must sit with those abroad. Yes, shame on you!
“We believe using the name “Ravelympics” for a competition that involves an afghan marathon, scarf hockey and sweater triathlon, among others, tends to denigrate the true nature of the Olympic Games. In a sense, it is disrespectful to our country’s finest athletes and fails to recognize or appreciate their hard work.”
I’m also amazed that you know all about the patterns, the groups and the events. This must mean there is a knitter or crocheter among you, or you spend hours upon hours going through blog posts. Seriously, do you have nothing better to do with you time! I would also ask, what do OUR Athletes think of your letter. Would they agree with you? I would say a few would mostly likely be just as outraged as we are for the simple reason, they are KNITTERS! While you’re busy checking out the Ravelympics situation and do a Google search, I think you will be quite taken back at the outrage you’ve caused. Again, Shame on YOU!
I’m now done venting but have to say that as a knitter, and one that loves this event, I will be participating in Ravelympics! After seeing what the US Olympic Committee had to say to Ravelry, I’m actually contemplating boycotting the Olympics
Here is a few other blogs sharing their point of view on this information: