Homo U.S. Olympic Committee Targets the Northwest’s Large, Hairy Gay Men
posted by July 23 at 11:42 AMon
Today brings a story that seems too good—by which I mean too hilarious—to be true. And yet it is.
At the center of the saga is the annual summer campout of the Northwest Bears, the (hairy) gay men’s social and service organization that, as you may recall, won The Stranger’s first annual Pride Parade float contest. The “drama,” as it is, comes from the name selected for this year’s bear campout: Kamp Kodiak 2008 “Olympic Village.”
First came the U.S. Olympic Committee’s astounding cease-and-desist letter:
Dear Mr. Fotter,
The United States Olympic Committee (“USOC”) recently became aware that the NorthWest Bears Club (“NWBC”) is promoting an event called Kamp Kodiak 2008 “Olympic Village” from August 7-11th in at the Miller River Campground. The USOC has not given NWBC permission to use the word OLYMPIC, the Olympic Symbol or the Torch image in conjunction with this event and objects any attempt to misappropriate the goodwill associated with those marks.
Congress granted the USOC the exclusive right to control all commercial use of Olympic imagery and terminology in the United States, including the Olympic Symbol and the word OLYMPIC, or simulation of those marks tending to cause confusion or mistake, to deceive, or to falsely suggest a connection with the corporation or any Olympic Games activity. See The Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act, 36 U.S.C. §220501 et seq. (the “Act”). The Act also allows the USOC to file a civil action against any unauthorized commercial use of the word OLYMPIC “for the purpose of trade [or] to induce the sale of any goods or services, or to promote any theatrical exhibition, athletic performance, or competition.” NWBC’s use of the mark OLYMPIC in connection with this event without permission from the USOC clearly is prohibited under the Act. NWBC’s use of the mark OLYMPIC therefore may give rise to claims of trademark infringement, unfair competition, and false advertising. In addition, NWBC’s use of the mark OLYMPIC dilutes the fame of the USOC’s OLYMPIC trademarks, weakening their value and therefore impairing the USOC’s ability to support U.S. athletes.
Unlike the National Olympic Committees of many other countries, the USOC does not rely on federal funding to support all of its efforts. We raise the money we need to feed, house, and train U.S. athletes primarily by public fundraising and by licensing the use of the Olympic marks, images and terminology to our official sponsors, suppliers, and licensees. These legitimate license and sponsorship fees house, feed, train and otherwise support U.S. Olympic athletes, and finance this country’s participation in the Olympic Games. Other companies such as McDonald’s and Coke have paid substantial sums to the USOC for the right to use Olympic-related marks, and through their sponsorships have supported U.S. athletes for years. On the other hand, NWBC has no official relationship with the USOC and therefore is not authorized to use any Olympic imagery or terminology.
The USOC is requesting that the NWBC change the terminology and imagery associated with this event. Accordingly, the USOC requests that NWBC take the necessary steps to remove all usages pertaining to the event, and ensure that Olympic terminology and imagery will not be used for any future NWBC function. In short, the USOC request that NWBC:
1. Ensure that all steps have been taken to remove the Olympic imagery and terminology from any internet site, advertisement enrollment form or signage that is in place to promote this event;
2. Refrain from using Olympic terminology in reference to the specific competitions by renaming such festivities as: Big Ass Bear Olympics with Dr. Bob and the Olympic Board Game Competitions;
3. Refrain from using Olympic terminology or engaging in any other commercial activities in violation of the Act in the future.
Please acknowledge your understanding of our position and your agreement of these conditions by return e-mail reply to my attention prior to the start of the August event. If you would like to discuss this matter directly, please feel free to contact me at XXX-XXX-XXXX.
UNITED STATES OLYMPIC COMMITTEE
One Olympic Plaza, Colorado Springs, CO 80909
The Bears’ hilarious back-n-forth with Ms. Gross is continued after the jump.
Missive #2, sent from NW Bear Brendan McDonald to Carol Gross of the U.S. Olympic Committee:
Dear Ms. Gross:
It is with bewilderment and amusement that we received your letter asking our friendly local club to refrain from using the term “Olympic” for our annual camping trip at the Miller River Campground Aug. 7-11. I am the chief organizer of this event, and consider myself fairly representative of the Northwest Bears and Northwesterners in general. Let me give a little background on myself, and perhaps you will see the inherent paradox.
I was born on a small logging town on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State at Olympic Memorial Hospital. My family and I enjoyed spending vacations at Olympic National Park, where our favorite spot was the Olympic Hot Springs. I was able to finish high school one year early due to credits earned through Olympic Community College in Bremerton. I then attended college in Olympia, the capital of Washington State since 1889, where I belonged to a club that spent weekends hiking in the Olympic Mountains. I earned my way through college by working at the Olympic Boat Center, knowing more about boats than cars due to my upbringing in this Olympic environment. Upon graduation, I moved to the community of Bellingham, where I lived on Olympic Drive, until I moved near Seattle, where I enjoy having guests stay at its premier hotel, the Olympic Four Seasons.
Please do not interpret my remarks as disrespectful. I am certain that you are simply a working person like ourselves. Basically, we are just a group of easy-going software engineers, loggers, aerospace workers, cancer researchers, and baristas trying to put salmon and cappuccino on the table just like anyone else. But I hope that you will appreciate that we consider anything “Olympic” to be our birthright, our heritage, and part of our local culture, and that we balk at anyone who suggests that we have no inherent right to this term.
That having been said, we also understand that you have the law on your side. Remove the name “Olympic” from our website? Done. The Olympic Torch? The rings? Even Dr. Bob’s Big Ass Bear Olympics? Done, done, and done. We are 100% clean, and now you can check us off of your hit list.
Best regards to the Committee,
P.S. The Northwest Bears would like you to know that we are breathing a collective sigh of relief that the Miller River Campground is in the Cascade Mountains, and not the Olympics.
Missive #3 is Carol Gross’ retort:
I appreciate the strong ties you have to the Olympic Peninsula Region of the Pacific Northwest. As thankful as you are that the Miller River Campground is in the Cascades rather than the Olympics, I am just as pleased that you have chosen the mark 2008 Bear-jing rather than Bear-jing 2008, as the latter would have been considered a simulation of our trademark: Beijing 2008, and would have also run afoul of our legislation.
Most of the references that you illustrated qualify for a geographic exemption under the Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act, and are therefore entitled to use Olympic terminology. And the one commercial business you mentioned, the Olympic Boat Center also enjoys rights to the Olympic trademark because it was grandfathered in prior to the enactment of our legislation.
Thank you for agreeing to make the requested changes, and for also re-naming Dr. Bob’s event from “Olympic” to “Gaygames”. We will close our file on this matter.
Closing thoughts from Brendan, sent to me:
Of course, our big question is this: How did they find us out? Kamp Kodiak is a members only, not-for-profit event, not unlike a summer church picnic, except of course that it’s a bit more left of center…Anyway, watch your backside. Big Brother is watching…
Deep thanks to everyone who made this Slog post possible. I can’t believe I’ve lived this long knowing nothing about the geographic exemptions under the Ted Stevens Olympic and Amateur Sports Act. (And have fun in the woods, Bears!)