Bwi Shops Must Stop Using Name 'Olympic'

July 03, 2009|By Hanah Cho | Hanah Cho,

Olympic News, one of the biggest retail operations at BWI Marshall Airport, must stop using its name after losing a trademark infringement lawsuit filed by the U.S. Olympic Committee, but the two parties are sparring over the timing of making changes to the name, signage and other promotional and advertising materials.

U.S. District Judge Deborah Chasanow ruled in May that the use of Olympic News is unauthorized and violates federal law that grants the Olympic Committee exclusive right to the word Olympic and symbols associated with the games. Olympic Committee officials called the decision a "solid victory" for the group and its athletes.

The Olympic Committee sued Olympic News and its parent, Olympic Supply Inc., based in Prince George's County, in February 2008. Olympic Supply has used its name since 1991.

Olympic News operates five stores at BWI. Sandy Roberts, who runs Olympic News, did not return calls seeking comment. Under the agreement between the parties, Olympic Supply will stop using Olympic in its retail and corporate names and destroy any promotional materials using the word, according to court documents filed this week.

Olympic Supply has asked the court for sufficient time to make such changes and absorb the costs, estimated to be nearly $97,000. It has proposed 45 days to determine a new trade name, change its name on its Web site and order new uniforms for employees, while allowing a "transitional period of one year to change all other uses" of its name, according to court filings.

The Olympic Committee has objected to the one-year period, arguing that Olympic Supply is seeking court approval to violate federal law for another year. It asks the court to deny Olympic Supply's request.

Rana Dershowitz, the USOC's chief of legal and government affairs, said the Olympic Committee reached out to the retailer three years ago to obtain an amicable settlement without success.

Many such cases are resolved without a court fight because businesses are not aware of the protection given to the word Olympic under federal law.

But in the case of Olympic News, "they knew Olympic is protected under federal law," Dershowitz said. "They should not be awarded for dragging this out for three years and have another year to transition."

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