USOC Threatens SLC Weekly

Salt Lake City Paper's Use of Five Rings in Promo Brings No Goodwill.

Those nice folks at the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) had their high-powered attorneys from Washington D.C. drop us a line the other day.

The USOC and their $300-an-hour legal beagles hinted that they’d take us to court because we had the temerity to use five circles in a design reflecting next week’s Best of Utah issue–which indeed will satirize the Salt Lake Olympic Organizing Committee.

What the nice folks at Arter & Hadden wrote to us was that we had no authorization to use “the Olympic Symbol”, i.e., the famous Five Interlocking Ring Design. The USOC did not consent to such use.

“The USOC also has claims against Salt Lake City Weekly under the Lanham Act for trademark infringement, unfair competition, false advertising and trademark dilution, and claims under various state laws for deceptive trade practices and false promotion ”

Hey, guys, maybe you ought to lighten up a bit.

First of all, our circles can’t be misconstrued as your official interlocking rings. Number one, they aren’t interlocking. Number two, they don’t have your famous colors. Some people mistook them for condoms. And beyond that, City Weekly’s Best of Utah ’99 is editorial content, not a candy bar or a juice drink–or even a beer. And we certainly don’t pretend to be affiliated with the USOC, SLOC or any other Olympic organization.

Frankly, who would want to be affiliated with the Olympics? The so-called Olympic movement has used legitimate sport as window dressing for what a recent report commissioned by the USOC called a culture of corruption.

According to former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell, who headed the bid oversight commission, the Olympic culture, including the IOC, USOC and SLOC is “potentially illegal and inevitably corrupt.”

Don’t get us wrong. We like sports like ice skating and skiing. We even like luge. We like the idea that athletes who work hard and make sacrifices can attain something important from international competition. And, it does make the world a better place.

But the people who are paying the legal fees for this threat are part of a suspect movement–and these kinds of threats only serve to point that out. City Weekly isn’t trying to cash in on the Olympic name. But when SLOC is the center of a global scandal, we do intend to report on it. And in the vein of our annual Best of Utah edition, we plan on spoofing it–just like we’ve done in the past with other institutions and officials empowered by the public who sometimes fall short due to their own ineptitudes.

Our suggestion to the USOC: Get a grip.

This story is from the March 4 issue of Salt Lake City Weekly.