Court of Appeals rules in favour of the IOC on the use of the Olympic Village trademark in the Philippines. OLYMPICVILLAGE

The Court of Appeals (CA) in the Philippines has upheld the decision of the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) to reject a petition filed by a local sports and leisure store regarding the use of the "Olympic Village" trademark.

In Manila, the capital of the Philippines, the Court of Appeals (CA) dismissed the petition filed by a local sports and leisure store regarding the use of the "Olympic Village" trademark, to which the IOC claimed ownership and commercial rights.

The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) had issued a ruling that was upheld by the country's Court of Appeals. In its 28-page decision, dated 30 April 2024, the Fourth Division of the Court of Appeals rejected the petition filed by the president of Olympic Village Enterprises, Inc. (OVEI), Juanito Gervasio, against the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

The IOC, chaired since 2013 by German Thomas Bach, is not only the global governing body of the Olympic movement, but also a civil organisation based in Switzerland that finances and oversees Olympic events through the contributions of its sponsors and licensees.

The IOC rejected Olympic Village's registration, citing the 1981 Nairobi Treaty on the Protection of the Olympic Symbol.

The sporting goods company applied for registration of the mark "Olympic Village" in 1991 and for registration of the composite mark "Olympic Village" and the logo in 2010.

Olympic Village Enterprises, Inc. (Olympic Village United) operates a chain of specialty sports and leisure stores, including Olympic Village, Olympic World, Olympic Outlet, Olympic Village Fitness and The Great Olympic Sale.

Since its inception in 1991, Olympic Village United has been a leading provider of sports and leisure products through its 28 stores in the Philippines and its online sales platform.

"The marks in question are confusingly similar and therefore there is a likelihood of confusion between them," the court said in rejecting the local company's petition.

"This court is of the opinion that the petitioner's registration is void as it violates the Intellectual Property Code and, therefore, the petitioner has not acquired any property rights at all," the court said.

"Therefore, given the global legacy of the Olympic Games and the Philippines' active participation in it dating back to 1924, petitioner cannot plead ignorance of the creation and prior use of the Olympic mark. Accordingly, it is reasonable to conclude that the petitioner was fully aware of the prior existence, use and creation of the Olympic mark when it first coined the mark "Olympic Village" for its sports retail store. To reiterate, a well-known mark need not be registered in the Philippines in order to be protected," the appellate court concluded.