It's no secret that IP lawyers have been taking extremely seriously their duty to protect the Olympics trademarks and it seems they have knitting firmly within their sights. Only recently Locog banned a granny
from selling knitted mini Olympics outfits for charity (although that particular octogenarian did have form for headline-grabbing activities).
The latest yarn-based, attack was on a knitting and crochet social network (who knew?) called Ravelry. The Ravelry community, which boasts over 2 million members, decided to hold its third "Ravelympics" in honour of the upcoming London Games, featuring an "afghan marathon" and "sweater triathlon". Participants would compete in the yarn-based events, whilst watching the more athletic version of the Olympics on TV. So getting into the Olympics spirit whilst also creating some excellent woollen items. Sounds like a winner.
Not for the po-faced US Olympics Committee, however, which decided that the Ravelympics was the issue that most needed tackling. A cease and desist letter was immediately sent out informing the knitters that the Ravelympics, and its wool-based events, "tends to denigrate the true nature of the Olympic Games
", continuing, "in a sense it is disrespectful to our country's finest athletes
But knitters are clearly a community with which you do not mess. They leapt into a social networking frenzy, bashing out messages on the US Olympic team's Facebook page, flooding Twitter and bombarding the USOC with indignant emails. And it worked. Sort of.
||Some cross stiches yesterday
The USOC backed down, issuing an apology and claiming that their missive was merely a standard cease and desist letter, no offence meant. Which seemed rather disingenuous given the scathing references the USOC had made to Ravelympics events. And it wasn't good enough for a bunch of angry knitters. The USOC was forced into ANOTHER, more heart-felt, apology: "[W]e sincerely regret the use of insensitive terms in relation to the actions of a group that was clearly not intending to denigrate or disrespect the Olympic Movement. We hope you'll accept this apology and continue to support the Olympic Games."
Still, it was a half victory for the knitters. Whilst they may have forced the USOC to respect and acknowledge their noble craft, they still had to change the name of the Ravelympics which will now be known by the rather less mercurial Ravellenics.
Battles in which Olympics committees have been decidedly less bothered about waging include:
Taking an active stand in compelling Saudi Arabia to include female athletes in its Olympics team; and
Addressing India's unhappiness that the International Olympics Committee is accepting a fat wodge of cash from Dow Chemicals, which is claimed to have links with the 1984 Bhopal disaster, which killed over 15,000, and the subsequent repercussions.