Feb 12, 2010 at 02:43 PM
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Google Breaks Out The Olympic Rings

Update #2: As of Saturday morning, Google has now dropped the Olympic rings from its homepage altogether.

Update #1 (Friday): In response to this story, a Google spokesperson emailed to say that all use of the olympics logo or symbols have been previously reviewed and approved by the IOC.

On cue, Google unveiled this morning some beautiful Olympic imagery on its notoriously clean homepage -- including the IOC's famous five interlocking rings Olympic symbol. Does this make Google the default official search engine of Vancouver 2010? While the Vancouver Organizing Committee stands guard at local libraries and renames mom and pop pizza shops like Olympic Pizza, did the world's largest search engine slip through the cracks in using the rings without an official sponsorship?


With roughly 300 million searches a day that seems pretty unlikely. But in that case why not allow usage by other search engines?

Bing and Yahoo! have festive winter sports imagery, but no rings. Which would make sense, given "the International Olympic Committee has the exclusive right to prevent any person from using the symbol of the IOC consisting of five interlocking rings for the purpose of trade, to induce the sale of any goods or services."


Does Google have an exclusive supplier agreement that provides services or a promotional agreement that drives traffic to official Olympic websites? Or is this the biggest imaginable case of trademark infringement?

There are exceptions to the rule, such as usage deemed purely non-commercial or not related to the sale of goods and services. Still, seems a little strange that Google would somehow get privileged access to the coveted - and highly protected - international symbol of Olympic spirit.