Telstra wins case against Olympic Committee

Rachael Micallef
By Rachael Micallef | 29 July 2016

Telstra has won a case against the Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) over claims its adverts imply it is an official sponsor of the games in Rio.

The AOC had been claiming Telstra's "I go to Rio" ad is an attempt to deceive Australians into believing it is a sponsor of the Australian Olympic Team, and alleged that it breaches section 36 of the Olympic Insignia Protection Act (OIPA) 1987 and Australian Consumer Law.

However the Australian Federal Court has ruled in Telstra's favour, with Federal Court Justice Wigney dismissing an application by the AOC to stop Telstra running the ad, according to reports from ZD Net.

Justice Wigney said the advertising material does not show an intention by Telstra to suggest it had sponsorship of the Olympics, and said the telco had therefore not contravened the OIPA.

Justice Wigney also dismissed claims it breached Australian Consumer Law, noting that Telstra's ad was promoting its relationship with Seven, which has the rights to broadcast the games.

Telstra's ads had described the telco as "official technology partner to Seven's Olympic Games broadcast".

In a statement, Telstra welcomed the decision from the Federal Court. 

"We are pleased the court recognised that our marketing simply promotes our commercial arrangement with the Seven Network. We are disappointed that the AOC suggested otherwise," the statement says.

“We now look forward to letting our customers know how they can get free access to 36 channels of premium content on the ‘Olympics on 7’ Seven app.”

Seven issued a similar statement, noting: "Seven welcomes the Federal Court’s decision today, which dismissed the application to stop Telstra’s commercials promoting Seven's ‘Olympics on 7’ app.

"Telstra’s mobile customers will get free premium access to the ‘Olympics on 7’ app – a great way of showcasing this revolutionary development, which is designed to deliver maximum coverage of the Olympics to Australians on all platforms."

Last year, Optus replaced Telstra as the official telecommunications sponsor of the AOC. It follows a record number of partners signed up by the AOC for Rio 2016, with the value of such deals ranging from $250,000 for a lower-tier sponsorship package to upwards of $5 million.

The International Olympic Committee and its national constituents fiercely protect the use of terms such as 'Olympic Games', 'Olympics' and the Olympic rings, the most valuable property in sport.

The Australian Olympic Committee, which controls the Olympic rights in Australia, also funds the Australian team.

Telstra Seven Olympic app promotion

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