Read a Pacific Northwest, liberal perspective on world, national, and local politics. From majestic Redmond, Washington - the Northwest Progressive Institute Advocate.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

U.S. Olympic Committee puts the squeeze on local winery

The Olympics are a big business. Just ask the Olympic Cellars winery, which found out the hard way.

Olympic Cellars Winery has reached an agreement with the U.S. Olympic Committee allowing the winery to keep its name and maintain its Web site as long as wine sales east of the Cascade Mountains are not "substantial."

Other terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Olympic Cellars can only use the name as long as sales east of the Cascade Mountains are not substantial? Whatever happened to free enterprise, capitalism and the American way? Dare to make big money and Olympic Cellars will likely be sued into oblivion.

And since when does the U.S. Olympic Committee own the rights to marketing the word Olympic or any variations of it? Perhaps the USOC will now go after Olympic College, or perhaps Leuzinger High School in Lawndale, CA is in trouble since its sports teams are nicknamed the Olympians and the football stadium is adorned with Olympic rings. While they're at it, why not sue Olympic Paint & Stain, or the federal government (Olympic National Park and Olympic National Forest), or even Olympic Arms, Inc. Why not the city of Olympia, since it has the same origin?

I could probably go on with other examples but that would be ridiculous. Just like the USOC's shameful actions towards Olympic Cellars winery. To be fair, technically the winery was in violation of federal law, but that's what happens when you've got lobbyists on your side. They get words like Olympic trademarked so that small businesses with geographic ties to the word can't use them without going broke.

The agreement comes nine months after Olympic Cellars, which is located between Port Angeles and Sequim, received a letter from the USOC citing it for violation of the 1998 Olympic and Amateur Sports Act, which gives the committee commercial control of the word "Olympic." The act has been amended to allow businesses on the Olympic Peninsula to use the word in marketing west of the Cascade Mountains.

It's time for Congressman Norm Dicks, who represents the district the winery is located in, and Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray to amend this ridiculous law that gives the USOC a monopoly on the Olympic name. Clearly there is room for a small business that has nothing to do with athletic glory to use the name.

It should also be noted that I have absolutely no ties to Olympic Cellars.


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