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AS one of the co-host cities of the Beijing 2008 Olympic and Paralympic Games, Hong Kong is obliged to protect Olympic intellectual property (IP) against misuse and infringement and to prevent ambush marketing behaviour.



For this reason, the Intellectual Property Department (IPD) has set up a special unit, which works closely with the Equestrian Events (Hong Kong) of the Games of the XXIX Olympiad Company Limited and the Home Affairs Bureau, to co-ordinate and monitor problems associated with Olympic IP. The action programmes focus on education and publicity, promoting support and persuasion, enforcing the relevant IP laws, and following up on non-compliance and infringement.


Ryan Ng, the department’s Olympic Solicitor, said that his biggest challenge was persuading others to understand that the mark “Olympic” was not a generic term that everyone could use freely, but a private property that could only be used by or with the permission of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). “Many people find this requirement very inconvenient and restrictive, and some of them even complain that we are not helpful and trying to make their lives difficult,” Mr Ng said. “We appreciate that many people are very excited about the Olympic Games and they are eager to boost the atmosphere of the community, but the rights of IOC should be respected.”


He said that he first became involved in Olympic matters in May 2007, when he was asked to attend a seminar on protection of Olympic IP organised by the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad. “Since then, I have been giving legal advice on matters relating to Olympic IP and delivering presentations to various target audiences on an ad hoc basis.”




A two-person Olympic Intellectual Property Management Unit was set up by IPD in June 2007 and Mr Ng was assigned responsibility for the legal side of Olympic IP matters. His colleague, Assistant Manager, Vivian Tang is responsible for the marketing side of Olympic IP matters.


“To stage such a huge event as the Olympics, we need a lot of support and co-operation from many internal and external parties. Effective communication between various parties is definitely a key to success,” Mr Ng said. “For example, if we discover that there is any criminal infringement of Olympic IP such as counterfeited Fuwa mascots, we need to transfer the case to the Customs and Excise Department (C&ED) for investigation and enforcement.”


C&ED has also been working closely with relevant Mainland counterparts in areas of intellectual property rights (IPR) protection. During the sixth annual meeting of the Guangdong/Hong Kong IPR Protection Co-operation Expert Group in July 2007, the two sides agreed to step up intelligence exchange on IPR infringement offences related to the Olympics.


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