This week, the International Olympic Committee announced that the upcoming Tokyo Games would be postponed until next summer due to the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. Even though the event will take place in the summer of 2021, the IOC announced that the event will still retain the name “Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020”. By retaining the Tokyo 2020 brand, the USOC will not need to re-apply for trademarks or rebrand its materials, which are ordinarily planned years in advance (the US Olympic Committee already owns trademarks for LOS ANGELES 2028). While the ways in which the USOC will use the Tokyo 2020 brand in 2021 remain to be seen, the decision to recycle the event name fits squarely with the Tokyo 2020 sustainability initiative. In an effort to curb the Olympics’ impact on the environment, Tokyo 2020 was set to include an award ceremony podium made out of recycled household plastic waste, an Athlete’s Village built from timber donated by Japanese municipalities, and a hydrogen-fueled 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Cauldron and Torch.
Takeaway: Brands that are official sponsors of Tokyo 2020 will be able to continue to use the Tokyo 2020 trademarks and any composite logos pursuant to their sponsorship agreements. Importantly, the USOC may require additional review of composite logos in 2021. Those who are not sponsors of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics should be mindful that the USOC and the IOC are heavy enforcers of their intellectual property.